Energy Economy

Gas Prices Rose Less Than a Penny Last Week

For the fifth week in a row, the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline increased, after a string of nine consecutive weeks of increasingly lower prices. Monday’s national average was $1.97 a gallon, up by less than a penny week over week.

The lowest prices in the country rose slightly to an average of around $1.63 as of Monday morning. Gas prices still average below $2.00 a gallon in 35 states, unchanged from last week.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil traded down by nearly 2.5% Monday morning at $34.61 a barrel, after closing Friday at $35.49. International benchmark Brent crude traded down about 1.0% at $37.50. WTI has added nearly $1.50 a barrel in the past four trading sessions

The average cost at the most expensive 10% of stations stands at $2.84 per gallon, up seven cents week over week, while the lowest 10% average $1.53 per gallon, or two cents higher. The median U.S. price is $1.89 per gallon, unchanged compared with last week and about nine cents lower than the national average.

Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, commented, “The pace of increases has begun to throttle back over the last week in most states as gasoline demand’s recovery has slowed, keeping prices from matching their rapid pace from just a couple weeks ago. Prices will continue to move in lock-step with the coronavirus situation, so it remains challenging to know where prices will go in the weeks ahead.”

DeHaan added, “Oil prices saw another weekly rise, closing last week at over $35 per barrel due to a collision between oil production cuts and gasoline demand in the U.S. which has been on the mend, leading oil’s rally. The recovery in gas prices is likely to continue, though at a slower pace than what we’ve seen, with $2 per gallon likely coming in the next week or two.”

The five states where drivers are paying the most for a gallon of gas are Hawaii ($3.44), California ($2.86), Washington ($2.44), Oregon ($2.35) and Nevada ($2.34).

The five states where gas is cheapest are Mississippi ($1.58), Alabama ($1.63), Missouri ($1.63), Oklahoma ($1.64) and Louisiana ($1.64).

Compared to last month, the national average is up by more than 21 cents per gallon. Compared to last year, prices are down about 84 cents per gallon.

The situation in the crude oil futures market continues to improve for producers. The lack of investment in making new discoveries, however, could push prices higher over the longer term.