National gas price average stays steady after falling for three weeks

National/World

(GasBuddy) Breaking a three week streak of falling prices, the national average price of gasoline has risen, posting a gain of 0.9 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 fallen 1.4 cents and stands at $2.38 per gallon over the same period.

“Higher oil prices caused most states to see gas prices inch higher, with the national average rising ever so slightly in the last week, breaking its three week streak of declines. However, the rise is likely temporary as oil prices that had pushed higher gave up their gains last week and closed near the low-side of the range they’ve been in for quite some time,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “According to Pay with GasBuddy data, gasoline demand declined again last week, falling nearly 1% from the prior week, largely in line with expectations as we head into the first full week of fall. While the Atlantic is finally silent- likely temporary- really the only upside we could see over the coming months would be borne out of hurricane season, or if a COVID-19 vaccine proves successful in pushing demand back closer to normal.”

Oil prices have remained mostly stable over the last week with a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil at $40.76 in early Monday morning trade, up from $40.36 a week ago. Brent crude was virtually unchanged over the week ago level at $42.38 per barrel, down 2 cents from a week ago. New coronavirus cases continues to cloud oil’s recovery, disrupting a potential recovery in oil demand that could help boost prices. Some countries are adding new restrictions to residents hoping to curb so-called second waves of COVID-19 cases, hurting oil’s potential demand recovery.

Government data last week showed declines in all major hydrocarbon inventories, with crude oil inventories falling 1.6 million barrels in the last week, gasoline inventories off 4 million barrels and distillate inventories down 3.4 million barrels. Gasoline inventories now stand 1.2% below their year ago level, the first time since COVID-19 flared up in March that gasoline inventories have been below their prior year level, a feat made possible by refineries that quickly curbed gasoline production during the explosion of coronavirus cases that caused gasoline demand to collapse.

Refinery utilization also fell one percentage point from the prior week as refiners also respond to seasonality- falling demand in fall- and as refiners in the Gulf Coast get back online after Hurricane Laura and Sally caused some disruption.

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 again at $1.99 per gallon, followed by $2.09, $1.89 and $2.19. The average cost at the priciest 10% of stations stands at $3.12 per gallon, up 7 cents from a week ago, while the lowest 10% average $1.73 per gallon, down 1 cent from a week ago. The median U.S. price fell 1 cent to $2.08 per gallon, about 9 cents lower than the national average. The states with the lowest average prices: Mississippi ($1.82), Texas ($1.84) and Louisiana ($1.85), while the highest priced states were California ($3.21), Hawaii ($3.07) and Washington ($2.79).

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