Gas prices see post Labor Day decline

National/World

(GASBUDDY) For the second straight week, the national average price of gasoline has dropped, falling 3.2 cents per gallon over the last week to $2.17 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 price of diesel has decreased 0.8 cents and stands at $2.41 per gallon over the same period.

“Seasonal factors, as expected, are pushing gas prices down in most areas across the country. In addition, oil prices have hit a rough patch on renewed concerns about the economy and falling demand, leaving motorists the beneficiaries for the next few weeks,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “No one should be in a rush to fill up as prices will likely continue to trend lower, especially as the summer gasoline requirement ends on Tuesday, ushering in cheaper to produce winter gasoline and a return to less fragmentation in supply since winter gasoline is common nearly coast-to-coast, making it less of a headache to produce fuel since it can be used universally.”

West Texas Intermediate crude oil, after having stayed in a tight $40-$42 barrel range for nearly 10 weeks, has dropped to $36.99 this morning on concerns over demand with the summer driving season now concluded, while Brent crude oil stands at a slightly better $39.41. With Tropical Storm Sally eyeing the Louisiana coast, several refiners have signaled plans to shut down ahead of the storm, leaving more crude oil in storage during the downtime. With seven areas of tropical interest in the Atlantic, there may be more shutdowns and evacuations from oil platforms in the weeks ahead, playing a role in the price of oil.

Government data last week showed crude oil inventories rose by 2 million barrels, good for a 14% year-on-year rise, while gasoline inventories fell 3 million barrels, likely as refiners slowed down operations for Hurricane Laura. Distillate fuel inventories lost 1.7 million barrels, but remain 20% above the five year average going into the fall. Refiners operated at just 71.8% of capacity as well, highlighting refineries that had shut down for Hurricane Laura. With Tropical Storm Sally now heading for a similar region, there are likely to be continued shutdowns. Not only are refining economics weak, but demand is likely to be challenged seasonally with coronavirus shutdowns in effect.

At gas pumps across the country, changes to prices were very much a mixed bag across the board. The most common U.S. gas price encountered by motorists was unchanged at $1.99 per gallon, followed by $1.89, $2.09 and $2.19. The average cost at the priciest 10% of stations stands at $3.05 per gallon, down 5 cents from a week ago, while the lowest 10% average $1.74 per gallon, down 2 cents from a week ago. The median U.S. price fell 2 cents to $2.09 per gallon, about 8 cents lower than the national average. The states with the lowest average prices: Mississippi ($1.84), Texas ($1.85) and Louisiana ($1.86), while the highest priced states were California ($3.22), Hawaii ($3.13) and Washington ($2.84).

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