(GasBuddy) For the sixth straight week, the national average price of gasoline has risen, posting a 0.6 cent per gallon gain from a week ago to $3.04 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 now stands 16.8 cents higher than a month ago and $1.17 per gallon higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel has risen 1.2 cents in the last week and stands at $3.18 per gallon.
“With the summer driving season now officially begun, gas prices have clung to a $3 per gallon average on continued strong demand as Americans take to the roads amidst a continued economic recovery,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “Through Sunday, U.S. gasoline demand was very strong over the weekend, with Friday and Sunday both setting new Covid records for gasoline consumption for their respective day of week, according to GasBuddy data. While gasoline demand continues to recover, oil production has only slowly started gaining momentum after a very challenging 2020 forced oil companies to take several steps backward as prices and demand plummeted last year. While oil production is now moving in the right direction, we’re in catch up mode to searing hot gasoline demand, and the imbalance has pushed prices up notably. For now, there’s little chance of a backslide in gas prices, but a larger chance that this summer could boast near-record gasoline demand as Americans hit the road, but remain mostly stuck to the U.S. due to overseas travel challenges that persist.”
The price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil was sharply higher in early trade Tuesday, reaching nearly $69 per barrel, the highest since 2018 on strong Memorial Day demand in the United States, up from $64.72 per barrel a week ago. Brent crude oil eclipsed the $70 per barrel mark, last trading at $71.09, up nearly 2.5%. Oil’s rebound remains strong as the global economy rebounds and Covid cases slow, buoyed by lofty expectations that the summer driving season in the world’s biggest consumer, the United States, will return close to normal or exceed normal.
The rig count in the U.S. has continued to climb, according to tracker Baker Hughes, with 2 new rigs in service, bringing the count to 457, or 156 higher than a year ago. Canada added 4 rigs to a total of 62, or 42 higher than a year ago.
OIL AND REFINED PRODUCT INVENTORIES
Crude oil inventories fell a typical 1.7 million barrels as the country begins the summer driving season, with oil inventories now about 2% below the five year average for this time of year. Oil production was unchanged at 11 million barrels per day, or 2.2 million barrels lower than the pre-Covid peak. Gasoline inventories fell 1.7 million barrels and stand nearly 9% below normal, while distillate inventories fell 3 million barrels to 21.4% lower than last year. The good news was that refinery utilization continues to increase as refiners respond to higher demand, with utilization up 0.7% to 87%, led higher by improvements in PADD 1 and 2 refineries. Total U.S. oil inventories are down about 10% from last year’s Covid-induced surge in inventories as consumers parked their vehicles.
According to a new dataset being released by GasBuddy, U.S. gasoline demand was up on strong demand ahead of the Memorial Day weekend. Nationally, gasoline demand rose 9.4%, while demand rose 15.5% in PADD 1, rose 5.3% in PADD 2, rose 10.8% in PADD 3, rose 7.5% in PADD 4 and rose 3.3% in PADD 5.
GAS PRICE TRENDS
The most common U.S. gas price encountered by motorists was $2.99 per gallon, up 10 cents from last week, followed by $2.89, $2.79 and $3.09. The average cost at the priciest 10% of stations stands at $4.01 per gallon, up 3 cents from a week ago, while the lowest 10% average $2.58 per gallon, down 5 cents from a week ago. The median U.S. price is $2.92 per gallon, up 1 cent from last week and about 12 cents lower than the national average. The states with the lowest average prices: Oklahoma ($2.68), Louisiana ($2.68) and Mississippi ($2.69). The states with the highest priced states: California ($4.19), Hawaii ($3.90) and Nevada ($3.63).