(GasBuddy) For the sixth straight week, the nation’s average gas price has fallen, declining 11.9 cents from a week ago to $3.09 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 is down 57.1 cents from a month ago and 20.0 cents per gallon lower than a year ago. The national average price of diesel has fallen 14.1 cents in the last week and stands at $4.77 per gallon.
“The national average for a gallon of gasoline is down nearly $2 compared to six months ago, and heading into Christmas travel week, is at its lowest in a year and a half, saving Americans some $750 million every day,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “While the decline should take the national average under $3 per gallon in the next week or so, it is soon likely to fade as oil prices have held in the $70 per barrel range. But while the declines for gasoline may fade, diesel prices still have considerable ground to cover, and could fall another 50 cents or more in the weeks ahead. Fuel prices across the board have been plunging back into territory more Americans feel is normal, which could certainly boost economic sentiment going forward.”
After reaching as low as $72 per barrel, West Texas Intermediate crude oil has seen a slight rally on China’s reopening plans, rising $1.47 per barrel in early trade to $75.76, nearly $4 higher than last Monday’s $71.85 per barrel fetch. Brent crude oil was up $1.46 in early trading to $80.50 per barrel, also some $4 higher than last Monday’s $76.32 per barrel start. While the Department of Energy last week began the process of refilling the SPR with a 3 million barrel solicitation, oil prices were little changed on the news, initially rallying before cooling right back off. Traditionally, the end of the year features drawdowns on inventories to avoid paying tax on product held at the end of the year, which has often pushed refined products prices higher.
According to Baker Hughes, last week’s U.S. rig count was down 4 to 776 and was 197 rigs higher than a year ago. The Canadian rig count was down 3 rigs to 199 and was 32 rigs higher than a year ago.
OIL AND REFINED PRODUCTS
Last week’s report from the Energy Information Administration showed a large 10.2 million barrel rise in oil inventories, while the SPR saw a decline of 4.7 million barrels. U.S. oil inventories now stand about 4 million barrels below last year, and 6% below the five year seasonal average. Gasoline inventories jumped a solid 4.5 million barrels and now stand at a 5 million barrel surplus compared to a year ago, but remain 3% shy of the five year seasonal average. Distillate inventories picked up 1.4 million barrels and now stand down just 2.9% compared to a year ago, having seen significant recovery over the last two months. Implied gasoline demand, a proxy for retail consumption, fell 103,000bpd to 8.26 million barrels per day, while refinery utilization fell 3.3 percentage points to 92.2% as product prices have fallen. Total U.S. petroleum supplies stand up 20.7 million barrels compared to a year ago, but including the SPR are down 196 million barrels versus a year ago.
According to GasBuddy demand data driven by its Pay with GasBuddy card, U.S. retail gasoline demand rose last week (Sun-Sat) by 3.3%, after bouncing back the week prior. Broken down by PADD region, demand rose 2.9% in PADD 1, rose 3.2% in PADD 2, rose 5.2% in PADD 3, fell 203% in PADD 4, and rose 3.2% in PADD 5.
GAS PRICE TRENDS
The most common U.S. gas price encountered by motorists stood at $2.99 per gallon, unchanged from last week, followed by $2.89, $2.79, $2.69 and $3.09 rounding out the top five most common prices.
The median U.S. gas price is $2.99 per gallon, down 10 cents from last week and about 9 cents lower than the national average.
The top 10% of stations in the country average $4.22 per gallon, while the bottom 10% average $2.44 per gallon.
The states with the lowest average prices: Texas ($2.57), Oklahoma ($2.57), and Arkansas ($2.66).
The states with the highest average prices: Hawaii ($5.02), California ($4.28), and Nevada ($4.06).