GasBuddy: Rise in COVID cases affecting prices at the pump

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(GasBuddy) The nation’s average gas price has fallen 0.5 cents per gallon from a week ago to $3.17 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 now stands unchanged from a month ago and $1.01 per gallon higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel has fallen a penny in the last week and stands at $3.28 per gallon.

“As the number of Covid cases continues to surge globally, oil prices continue to be under pressure due to some countries instituting travel and movement limitations. This limits oil demand, which has led to the increase in gas prices slowing, and many states seeing slight drops compared to prices a week ago,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “In addition, the tropics are heating up, which could be a source of upward pressure on gas prices should we see a major hurricane target the Gulf Coast. However, without such a storm, gas prices may see some stability over the coming week or two, before slowly decreasing as the summer driving season wraps up.”

With new coronavirus cases continuing to surge in the U.S. and some countries, oil has continued to see heavy selling pressure, with a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil down $1.94 per barrel in early Monday trade to $66.50, roughly on par with the level seen a week ago. Brent crude oil was also in the red, down $1.80 to $68.79 per barrel, slightly higher than last week’s $68.18 fetch. With the U.S. summer driving season coming to a close and with additional high profile companies delaying their return-to-office plans, there is some level of anxiety that fuel demand will trail off into the autumn as OPEC continues to raise oil production, leading prices to crumble.

According to Baker Hughes, last week’s U.S. rig count rose by 9 to 500, and was 256 rigs higher than a year ago. The Canadian rig count rose by 8 to 164, or 110 more than a year ago.

According to the weekly report from the EIA, U.S. crude oil inventories fell by 400,000 barrels, a relatively small amount, while gasoline inventories lost 1.4 million barrels and distillates saw a 1.8 million barrel gain. Domestic crude oil production rose 100,000 barrels per day to 11.3 million barrels, still nearly 2 million barrels per day lower than pre-Covid levels. Refinery utilization rates gained half a percentage point to 91.8%, while implied gasoline demand reached 9.43 million barrels per day. So far in 2020, gasoline demand is up 10.0% to 2020, according to EIA figures. Total petroleum inventories now stand nearly 180 million barrels lower than a year ago as demand has surged from last summer.

According to GasBuddy demand data driven by its Pay with GasBuddy card, U.S. retail gasoline demand fell slightly after reaching its highest level of 2021 last week. Nationally, weekly gasoline demand rose 1.4% from the prior week, while demand rose 2.7% in PADD 1, rose 1.3% in PADD 2, fell 0.2% in PADD 3, fell 0.5% in PADD 4 and fell 0.2% in PADD 5.

The most common U.S. gas price encountered by motorists was $2.99 per gallon, unchanged from last week, followed by $2.89, $3.09 and $2.95.
The average cost at the priciest 10% of stations stands at $4.24 per gallon, up 1 cent from a week ago, while the lowest 10% average $2.71 per gallon, unchanged from a week ago.
The median U.S. price is $2.99 per gallon, down a penny from last week and about 17 cents lower than the national average.
The states with the lowest average prices: Mississippi ($2.77), Louisiana ($2.81) and Oklahoma ($2.83).
The states with the highest priced states: California ($4.39), Nevada ($4.04) and Hawaii ($4.03).

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