(GasBuddy) For the first time in 2020, the national average price of gasoline has increased, posting a rise of 0.7 cents to $2.43 per gallon on Monday according to GasBuddy data compiled from more than 11 million individual price reports covering nearly 151,150 gas stations across the country. The average price of diesel fell 2.5 cents to $2.87 per gallon.
“Oil prices rebounded last week on word that OPEC members were closely considering cutting global oil production for several months to offset the decline in demand due to the coronavirus, pushing the national average marginally higher versus a week ago,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “While it’s possible average gasoline prices will remain within arm’s reach of recent lows, unless there’s renewed or new concerns with the spread of the coronavirus, we may have seen the deepest discounted prices behind us, with some chance we’ll hold close to the lows before the seasonal rally begins in earnest. It wouldn’t be a bad time to fill up to hedge the chances of prices rising in the coming days.”
Crude oil prices saw a jump last week as OPEC mulls over cutting oil production to better match reduced global oil demand as a result of the ongoing spread of COVID-19. In early Monday trade, a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil was last trading at $52.07, up over $2 from $49.88 a week ago. Brent crude oil also saw liftoff, rising to $57.21 this morning from $53.79 a week ago. Any meaningful cut in oil production from OPEC would offset the reduction in demand from key-consumer China, where tens of thousands of flights have been halted, along with ground transportation network disruptions.
Government data last week showed a larger build in crude oil inventories than expected, a rise of 7.5 million barrels, while current inventories remained about 2% below both year-ago and 5-year averages. Gasoline inventories saw a slight decrease of 100,000 barrels, but remain 3% above the 5-year average, while distillate fuel inventories sank 2 million barrels, about 5% below the 5-year average. Gasoline demand remained off 2019’s faster start by about 2.5%. Refinery utilization increased slightly to 88%, but that number may not stand this week as maintenance season remains just around the corner.
At gas pumps across the country, gas prices were a mixed bag of change, with slightly more than half of states seeing prices rise. The most common gas price across the country held at $2.29 per gallon, the same as a week ago, followed by $2.39 per gallon and $2.19 per gallon as second and third most common, respectively, also holding in place from a week ago. The average cost at the priciest 10% of stations stands at $3.43 per gallon, a two cent decrease from a week ago, while the lowest 10% average $1.96 per gallon, up two cents from a week ago. The median U.S. price is $2.32 per gallon, up two cents in the last week while about 11 cents lower than the national average.