(GasBuddy) For the sixth straight week, the nation’s average gas price has dropped, falling 17.4 cents from a week ago to $4.33 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 56.7 cents from a month ago and $1.19 per gallon higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel has declined 13.0 cents in the last week and stands at $5.41 per gallon.
“Gas prices continue falling coast to coast, with the national average last week declining for the sixth straight week, or 40 days in a row. The national average is now down an astounding 70 cents in that timeframe,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “I have no reason yet to expect the decline won’t reach seven straight weeks, as gas stations still have plenty of room to decline as oil prices remain under $100 per barrel. However, should the tropics become more active, the decline could eventually reverse. In addition, this week we’ll see GDP data for the second quarter, and if it’s better than expected, we may see oil rally, slowing the descent. For now, nine states are seeing average prices under $4 per gallon, a number that will rise this week, with over 40,000 stations under that level, keeping $266 million per day in motorists’ wallets versus mid-June.”
Oil markets have been somewhat mixed after bouncing off recent bottoms over the last two weeks. Concerns of tight supply have resurfaced, while the European Union moved to ease some sanctions on Russia’s oil exports. In early Monday trade, a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil was up $1.33 per barrel to $96.03, but still a drop from last Monday’s $99.83 per barrel start. Brent crude was also higher in Monday trade, up $1.18 to $104.38 per barrel, a touch higher than last week’s $103.78 start. Continued volatility is expected this week as the Federal Reserve meets with expectations of another rise in interest rates. Continued earnings reports on Wall Street may play into volatility as positive economic news may pull oil higher.
According to Baker Hughes, last week’s U.S. rig count was up 2 to 758, and was 267 rigs higher than a year ago. The Canadian rig count was up 4 to 195, 46 more than a year ago.
OIL AND REFINED PRODUCT INVENTORIES
Last week’s report from the Energy Information Administration showed a small 400,000 barrel decline in oil inventories, while the SPR fell by 5 million barrels. Total oil inventories now stand 22.7% below the year ago level as the SPR stands at its lowest level since the reserve was being filled in the 1980s. Gasoline inventories rose 3.5 million barrels in the last week, but are down 8% from last year and are 3% lower than the five year average for this time of year. Distillate inventories fell by 1.3 million barrels and are 20% below the year ago level while falling to a 23% deficit to the five year average for this time of year. Implied gasoline demand rose 459,000 barrels to 8.52 million barrels per day, with year-to-date implied demand now just 0.1% higher than last year. Refinery utilization fell 1.2 percentage points to 93.7%, with gasoline production rising and distillate production falling.
According to GasBuddy demand data driven by its Pay with GasBuddy card, U.S. retail gasoline demand saw a rise last week (Sun-Sat) of 1.54%. Broken down by region, demand rose 1.2% in PADD 1, rose 0.8% in PADD 2, rose 1.6% in PADD 3, rose 6.3% in PADD 4, and rose 3.4% in PADD 5.
GAS PRICE TRENDS
The most common U.S. gas price encountered by motorists stood at $3.99 per gallon, unchanged from last week, followed by $4.19, $3.89, $4.09, and $4.49 rounding out the top five most common prices.
The median U.S. price is $4.19 per gallon, down 20 cents from last week and about 14 cents lower than the national average.
The top 10% of stations in the country average $5.55/gal, while the bottom 10% average $3.63/gal.
The states with the lowest average prices: Texas ($3.82), South Carolina ($3.83), and Mississippi ($3.87).
The states with the highest prices: California ($5.71), Hawaii ($5.45), and Oregon ($5.17).