(GasBuddy) For the fourth straight week, the nation’s average gas price has declined, falling 3.8 cents from a week ago to $4.06 per gallon Monday according to GasBuddy data compiled from more than 11 million individual price reports covering over 150,000 gas stations across the country. The national average is down 21.1 cents from a month ago and $1.21 per gallon higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel has fallen 1.2 cents in the last week and stands at $5.02 per gallon.

“We’ve now seen the national average price of gasoline decline every week for the last month, a feat we most likely would not have expected ahead of summer and given the continued turns in Russia’s war on Ukraine. However, the downturn could slow or could even reverse in the days ahead if the rally in oil prices continues,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “A barrel of crude is now $14 higher than it was last week, as the European Union weighs placing harsher sanctions on Russia. This could further tilt the delicate balance of supply and demand in the wrong way, potentially sending oil prices up significantly if implemented. The path forward at the pump remains murky, however, with many possible outcomes, so motorists should be prepared for a bumpy ride.”

OIL PRICES

The price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil surged from its week ago level as the EU signaled it may move forward with sanctions on Russian energy, and China worked to reopen some cities shut down due to Covid. In early Monday trade, a barrel of WTI was up 39 cents to $107.34, nearly $14 higher than last Monday’s open of $93.79 per barrel. Similarly, Brent crude oil was also 58 cents higher in early trade to $112.28 per barrel, also up sharply from last week’s $98.46 level. While the EU may wait for elections in France to conclude before moving forward with sanctions on Russia’s oil and natural gas, the market’s view is that such a move would likely come at high expense and further imbalance global supply and demand.

According to Baker Hughes, last week’s U.S. rig count was up 4 rigs to 693, and was 254 rigs higher than a year ago. The Canadian rig count was down by 8 to 103, or 47 more than a year ago.

OIL AND REFINED PRODUCT INVENTORIES

Crude oil inventories surged last week as refiners saw utilization rates plummet to 90.0%, a 2.5 percentage point drop, while refined product inventories were the movers, posting steep declines due to the slowdown at refiners. Oil inventories rose 9.4 million barrels, while the SPR fell 3.9 million. Domestic oil production was unchanged at 11.8 million barrels per day. Gasoline inventories fell 3.6 million barrels and are down 3% from the average for this time of year, while distillate inventories fell 2.9 million barrels and are 17% below the average for this time of year. Implied gasoline demand rose 174,000bpd to 8.74 million barrels as seasonal factors likely continue to push demand higher.

FUEL DEMAND

According to GasBuddy demand data driven by its Pay with GasBuddy card, U.S. retail gasoline demand saw a rise last week (Sun-Sat). Nationally, weekly gasoline demand rose 1.0% from the prior week, while demand rose 1.6% in PADD 1, rose 2.3% in PADD 2, fell 2.0% in PADD 3, rose 1.1% in PADD 4, and fell 0.9% in PADD 5.

GAS PRICE TRENDS

The most common U.S. gas price encountered by motorists stood at $3.79 per gallon, down 20 cents from last week, followed by $3.89, $3.99, $3.69, and $3.59 rounding out the five most common prices.

The median U.S. price is $3.87 per gallon, down 2 cents from last week and about 19 cents lower than the national average.

The top 10% of stations in the country average $4.55/gal, while the bottom 10% average $3.49/gal.

The states with the lowest average prices: Kansas ($3.67), Arkansas ($3.68), and Oklahoma ($3.68).

The states with the highest prices: California ($5.69), Hawaii ($5.18), and Nevada ($5.07).