National gas price average ticks up for first time in months

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(GasBuddy) For the first week in months, the nation’s average gas price has risen, climbing 1.5 cents from a week ago and stands at $3.27 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 11.1 cents from a month ago and $1.09 per gallon higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel has risen 0.3 cents in the last week and stands at $3.56 per gallon.

“After a pretty long run of falling gas prices, we’ve seen things stabilize. Oil prices have started to rise as omicron hasn’t been as severe as initially feared, leading to optimism that perhaps oil demand will start to rise in the weeks ahead as cases will eventually plateau,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “In addition, Great Lakes states were expected to see a price hike last week, but the hike hasn’t happened just yet, leading me to believe it will occur in short order this week and send the national average higher. For the rest of the nation, with oil near $76 per barrel, we will likely see gas price decreases replaced by minor price increases.”

OIL PRICES

Crude oil prices were in the red in early Monday trade as markets digest the likely increase in OPEC+ oil production likely to happen this week. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil was down 38 cents to $74.83 per barrel, up just over $1 from last Monday’s $73.68 tally. Brent crude oil was also trading lower by 31 cents at $77.47 per barrel, up less than a dollar from last Monday’s $76.77 level. OPEC+ will be meeting this week to discuss another 400,000 barrel raise for February, which is expected by nearly all market watchers as global demand continues to power through rising Covid cases.

According to Baker Hughes, last week’s U.S. rig count was unchanged at 586, and was 235 rigs higher than a year ago. The Canadian rig count fell by 43 to 90, or 31 more than a year ago.

OIL AND REFINED PRODUCT INVENTORIES

According to the Energy Information Administration, petroleum inventories saw a notable decline to finish the year, with crude oil, gasoline and distillate inventories all falling. Crude oil inventories dipped 3.6 million barrels, while gasoline fell 1.5 million and distillates fell 1.7 million barrels. Such drops ahead of the close of the year are common as refiners liquidate holdings to avoid a larger tax bill. Implied gasoline demand, a proxy for retail consumption, spiked to summer levels of 9.72 million barrels per day, but is likely overstated as gas stations refueled during a lull in gasoline prices. Refinery utilization rates increased 0.1 percentage points to 89.7% of capacity.

FUEL DEMAND

According to GasBuddy demand data driven by its Pay with GasBuddy card, U.S. retail gasoline demand fell last week (Sun-Sat) ahead of the Christmas holiday. Nationally, weekly gasoline demand was down 4.1% from the prior week, while demand fell 5.8% in PADD 1, fell 4.6% in PADD 2, fell 2.3% in PADD 3, fell 0.4% in PADD 4 and fell 3.7% 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 $3.19, $3.09, $2.89 and $3.29 rounding out the five most common prices.

The average cost at the priciest 10% of stations stands at $4.35 per gallon, up 4  cents from a week ago, while the lowest 10% average $2.74 per gallon, up 3 cents from a week ago.

The median U.S. price is $3.14 per gallon, an increase of a penny from last week and about 13 cents lower than the national average.

The states with the lowest average prices: Oklahoma ($2.84), Texas ($2.88) and Arkansas ($2.90).

The states with the highest priced states: California ($4.63), Hawaii ($4.28) and Washington ($3.86).

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