(GasBuddy) For the fourth straight week, the nation’s average gas price has fallen, declining 12.8 cents from a week ago to $4.66 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 34.4 cents from a month ago and $1.54 per gallon higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel has declined 8.5 cents in the last week and stands at $5.65 per gallon.

“The national average has declined for 27 days straight, or four weeks, the longest decline in average gas prices since the pandemic started in 2020. Average gas prices are down nearly 40 cents, with Americans shelling out $140 million less on gasoline every day than they did a month ago,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “We may see the trend last a fifth week, as long as oil prices remain cooperative and don’t surge beyond $105 per barrel, and as long as refinery production of gasoline remains strong. But we’re not completely out of the woods yet – we could also see a sharp reversal in the decline. There remains the risk of a spike in prices that could send us to new record levels in August, should any disruptions occur. It could be a wild ride, but for now, the plummet at the pump shall continue.”

OIL PRICES

Oil prices were slumping in early Monday trade as Covid-related shutdowns were again evident in China, causing concerns over demand, while the U.S. dollar saw renewed strength, making oil more expensive for any country not transacting in U.S. dollars. In early Monday trade, a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude was down some $3.40 per barrel to $101.39, down nearly $7 from last Tuesday’s start. Brent crude was tracking along WTI, down $2.86 to $104.16 per barrel, also slumping from last Tuesday’s $111.86 per barrel level. The oil trade remains volatile, having fallen nearly 10% in one trading session last week before rallying over 5%.

According to Baker Hughes, last week’s U.S. rig count was up 2 to 752, and was 273 rigs higher than a year ago. The Canadian rig count was up 9 to 175, 38 more than a year ago.

OIL AND REFINED PRODUCT INVENTORIES

According to the Energy Information Administration, last week saw a surge in oil inventories, which jumped over 8 million barrels, while the SPR fell 5.8 million barrels. U.S. oil inventories are now roughly 5% below the year ago level and 10% below the five year average for this time of year. Gasoline inventories fell by 2.5 million barrels and are down over 16 million barrels, or 7%, lower than a year ago and are 8% below the five year average for this time of year. Distillate inventories also fell by 1.3 million barrels and are 20% below a year ago and below the five year average for this time of year. Implied gasoline demand surged to 9.41 million barrels per day, likely due to the July 4 holiday weekend. Year to date gasoline demand is up just 1% from 2021. Refinery utilization saw a slight 0.5 percentage point decline to 94.5%, but gasoline production surged to 10.3 million barrels and distillate production rose to 5.4 million barrels. Overall supply is down 6.5% from a year ago.

FUEL DEMAND

According to GasBuddy demand data driven by its Pay with GasBuddy card, U.S. retail gasoline demand saw a dip last week (Sun-Sat), likely due to comparisons to the July 4 holiday weekend. Nationally, weekly gasoline demand fell 4.2% from the prior week, while demand fell 4.6% in PADD 1, fell 5.1% in PADD 2, fell 3.1% in PADD 3, fell 1.3% in PADD 4, and fell 3.0% in PADD 5.

GAS PRICE TRENDS

The most common U.S. gas price encountered by motorists stood at $4.29 per gallon, down 20 cents from last week, followed by $4.39, $4.59, $4.49, and $4.69 rounding out the top five most common prices.

The median U.S. price is $4.55 per gallon, down 11 cents from last week and about 11 cents lower than the national average.

The top 10% of stations in the country average $5.89/gal, while the bottom 10% average $3.98/gal.

The states with the lowest average prices: South Carolina ($4.14), Mississippi ($4.17), and Georgia ($4.18).

The states with the highest prices: California ($6.08), Hawaii ($5.59), and Alaska ($5.48).