(GasBuddy) For the second straight week, the national average price of gasoline has declined, falling 5.4 cents to $2.51 per gallon Monday while diesel slid 3 cents to $2.95 on average according to GasBuddy data on 135,000 gas stations nationwide.
“For the second straight week, average gasoline prices fell, with nearly every state declining week-over-week as retail gas prices saw more catching up to the previous decline in crude oil prices,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “The trend may not be over just yet, but oil prices have rebounded from their lows and are again strengthening, which may cut the party at the pump short in the weeks ahead. Worth watching is U.S. shale oil production values which continue to increase, which may limit oil’s rally moving forward, but dead ahead on the calendar is still turnaround season at the nation’s refiners which promises at least some short-term pain for long-term gain.”
47 of the nation’s 50 states saw their average price of gasoline decline, while Hawaii, Indiana and Nevada were the lone three that saw average prices rise. Oil prices were in rally mode again to close last week, with West Texas Intermediate crude oil rising to close the week at $61.68 per barrel, and rising to $62.19 in international trading as U.S. markets are closed today for the President’s Day holiday. Last week, oil prices price dropped as low as $58.
The rally in oil can be partially blamed on a smaller than expected rise in crude oil inventories. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a rise of 1.8 million barrels, but below inventory numbers put out by the American Petroleum Institute (API) a day earlier. Gasoline inventories fared better, rising 3.6 million barrels, according to the EIA. Yet both crude oil and gasoline inventories were lower than last year, by 96 million barrels (18.5%) and 10 million barrels (3.9%), respectively. Refinery utilization slipped 2.7% to 89.8% and production of both gasoline and other refined fuels fell, which is typical for late-winter as refiners begin their turnaround season which sees maintenance activity rise.
Looking state-by-state, the largest weekly changes in average gas prices were seen in: Michigan (-12 cents), Ohio (-9 cents), Illinois (-8 cents), Florida (-7 cents), Kentucky (-7 cents), Maryland (-6 cents), Maine (-6 cents), South Carolina (-6 cents), Alabama (-6 cents) and Georgia (-5 cents).
States with the lowest average gasoline prices: Mississippi ($2.25), South Carolina ($2.27), Alabama ($2.27), Ohio ($2.27), Missouri ($2.28), Texas ($2.29), Arkansas ($2.31), Oklahoma ($2.31), Tennessee ($2.32) and Kentucky ($2.34).
States with the highest average gasoline prices: Hawaii ($3.42), California ($3.30), Alaska ($2.97), Washington ($2.97), Nevada ($2.84), Pennsylvania ($2.83), Oregon ($2.83), New York ($2.73), Connecticut ($2.73) and New Jersey ($2.64).
With oil prices beginning to rally again, it’s more likely that gasoline prices may soon reverse course as retail prices have largely caught up to last week’s lowest wholesale prices. The national average may see relative stability but expect more states to see minor gas price increases in the days ahead before a larger, more organized upward trend begins in the next few weeks. A hike in gas prices is very likely across areas of the Great Lakes, where retail prices have fallen significantly over the last few weeks and where retailers are beginning to sell gasoline under cost.