(GasBuddy) Ending the 14 week stretch of gas prices declining, the nation’s average gas price has posted a rise of 3.2 cents from a week ago to $3.67 per gallon Monday, according to GasBuddy data compiled from more than 11 million individual price reports covering over 150,000 stations nationwide. The national average is down 17.5 cents from a month ago but 49.3 cents higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel has declined 5.1 cents in the last week and stands at $4.88 per gallon.
GAS PRICE BEHAVIOR SWINGS WILDLY
Refinery snags in some areas of the country are contributing to wild fluctuations as areas of the West Coast, Pacific Northwest, Great Lakes and Plains have seen significant refinery issues leading to supply challenges, causing prices to spike even as oil prices have dropped. However, the Northeast and Gulf Coast continue to see normal activity at refineries and prices there have dropped. The disconnect between regions grows larger and will likely remain abnormal for the next few weeks until refinery issues get under control and rectified.
“One of the longest gas price declines on record has finally come to an end after 14 weeks, with gas prices shooting up in several regions amidst myriad refinery issues from the West Coast to the Great Lakes and in between,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a wider gamut of price behaviors coast to coast in my career. A slew of unexpected refinery disruptions, including fires and routine maintenance, have seemingly all happened in a short span of time, causing wholesale gas prices to spike in areas of the West Coast, Great Lakes and Plains states – and some of those areas could see prices spike another 25-75 cents per gallon or more until issues are worked out. In addition, as Tropical Storm Ian nears the U.S. coast, some refiners could see limited disruption. As a precaution, GasBuddy has activated its Fuel Availability Tracker for motorists in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina. Hopefully, disruptions will be very limited due to Ian, but there remain many factors driving prices both up and down across the country.”
Crude oil prices have continued their downward slide as major central banks continue to raise interest rates sharply, raising concerns of a larger global slowdown in the weeks and months ahead. In early Monday trade, a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil was down 59 cents to $78.15 per barrel, a $5 drop from last Monday’s $82.31 per barrel fetch. Brent crude oil also saw a loss from last Monday, falling from $88.71 to $85.37 this morning, down 78 cents in early trade today. Even gasoline values continued to fall, but to motorists’ dismay, several high level refinery issues have plagued retail gasoline prices even as wholesale prices have dropped, and regional differentials have surged due to the outages.
According to Baker Hughes, last week’s U.S. rig count was up by 1 rig to 764, and was 243 rigs higher than a year ago. The Canadian rig count was up 4 rigs to 215, and was 53 rigs higher than a year ago.
OIL AND REFINED PRODUCTS
According to the Energy Information Administration, U.S. oil inventories last week rose a modest 1.1 million barrels, even as the SPR, the strategic reserve, fell by nearly 7 million barrels. U.S. commercial oil inventories now stand up nearly 17 million barrels, or 4.1%, higher than last year as the SPR has dropped due to the release of oil. Gasoline inventories rose 1.6 million barrels, but remain about 5% below the five year average for this time of year, while implied gasoline demand fell 172,000 bpd to 8.32 million barrels. Distillate inventories rose 1.2 million barrels but remain 18% below the five year average for this time of year. Domestic crude oil production held flat at 12.1 million barrels per day while refinery utilization jumped some 2 percentage points to 93.6% even with some refinery issues that haven’t yet been reflected in data.
According to GasBuddy demand data driven by its Pay with GasBuddy card, U.S. retail gasoline demand rose last week (Sun-Sat) by 1.2%. Broken down by PADD region, demand rose 2.9% in PADD 1, fell 0.1% in PADD 2, rose 2.3% in PADD 3, fell 3.1% in PADD 4 and fell 0.1% in PADD 5.
GAS PRICE TRENDS
The most common U.S. gas price encountered by motorists stood at $3.29 per gallon, down 10 cents versus last week, followed by $3.39, $3.69, $3.89 and $3.49 rounding out the top five most common prices.
The median U.S. gas price is $3.49 per gallon, up 5 cents from last week and about 18 cents lower than the national average.
The top 10% of stations in the country average $5.45 per gallon, while the bottom 10% average $2.93 per gallon.
The states with the lowest average prices: Mississippi ($3.04), Georgia ($3.08) and Louisiana ($3.08).
The states with the highest average prices: California ($5.65), Hawaii ($5.24) and Nevada ($5.00).