Motorists are paying on average six cents less for a gallon of gasoline on the week with all states seeing prices at the pump either drop or hold steady. Today’s national gas price average is $2.49, which is 18 cents cheaper than a month ago. With the latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) report measuring gasoline demand at 9.2 million b/d, down 281,000 b/d from the week prior, retail gas prices are showing steady promise of returning to pre-hurricane rates.
“Gas prices have fallen steadily for the past four weeks and now we are seeing gasoline demand drop alongside prices,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “The latest demand figures show the lowest since the week Hurricane Harvey hit and can likely be the beginning of a downward demand trend indicating even cheaper gas prices to come this fall.”
Over the weekend, Hurricane Nate made landfall over the Gulf Coast and is now a tropical depression. Ahead of the storm, many Gulf Coast oil platforms and rigs were shut down and employees evacuated. In addition, two refineries, accounting for six percent of total Gulf Coast refining capacity, shut down. Early reports speculate that refineries did not sustain damage and operations could start up today, Monday.
Overall, motorists will see minimal to no impact to gas prices in the region hit by the storm.
South and Southeast
Hurricane Nate has had little impact on South and Southeast regional gas prices. In fact, only four other states in the country are selling gas cheaper than Louisiana. In the region, gas prices are on average six cents cheaper than last Monday, with Oklahoma ($2.23), Arkansas ($2.26), Louisiana ($2.29) and Mississippi ($2.30) carrying the cheapest gas in the region. Meanwhile, five states in the region land on this week’s top 10 states with the largest decreases: Georgia (-10 cents), South Carolina (-9 cents), Alabama (-8 cents), Mississippi (-8 cents) and Florida (-8 cents).
For the first time since Hurricane Harvey made landfall, the region’s gasoline inventories increased, adding 1.9 million bbl on the week for a total inventory of 76 million bbl. This positive build indicates supply levels are getting closer to normal. However, year-over-year, the region sits at a 7.8 million bbl supply deficit, according to the EIA. Despite the shortfall, gas prices are expected to continue to decline toward more traditional fall pump prices throughout the month.
Mid-Atlantic and Northeast
All states are paying less for a gallon of gasoline compared to a week ago. With an eight-cent decrease, Tennessee and North Carolina saw the largest drops of all states in the region while Rhode Island (-3 cents) and Connecticut (-3 cents) saw the smallest change in price.
Many motorists are seeing double digit decreases in pump prices compared to one month ago, with gas prices continuing to drop: Delaware (-40 cents), Maryland (-31 cents), New Jersey (-27 cents) and Maine (-27 cents).
For a second straight week, the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region increased gasoline inventory. However, despite a 1.1 million bbl build, regional inventories are 3 million bbl below this time last year, according to the latest EIA data.
Great Lakes and Central
At 10 cents less than last week, Michigan ($2.40) is the region’s one state to see the largest and only double-digit drop in gas prices on the week. All states are paying less on the week. Following closely behind Michigan are Indiana (-9 cents) and Ohio (-9 cents). With a two-cent decrease, North Dakota saw the region’s smallest decline.
The region’s pump price drop comes alongside a large 1.5 million bbl drop in the Great Lakes and Central states overall gasoline inventory. According to the EIA, this was the largest inventory drop of all regions in the country. At 50 million bbl, total levels are on par with inventory last year at this time.
The West Coast features the highest prices in the nation this week with all states in the region appearing in the top ten most expensive markets: Hawaii ($3.11), California ($3.06), Alaska ($2.99), Washington ($2.95), Oregon ($2.80) and Nevada ($2.74). However, drivers in these states have seen some of most consistent prices week over week. Recent reports from the EIA show West Coast gasoline supplies are about 1 million bbl above the year ago level and refinery utilization is at 93 percent. Above average gasoline inventory and elevated refinery rates have contributed to steady prices in the region.
States in the Rockies are seeing some of the smallest declines in the country: Idaho (-2 cents), Colorado (-2 cents), Utah (-2 cents), Montana (-1 cent) and Wyoming (-1 cent). At $2.73, Idaho is ranked as the eighth most expensive state for gas in the country, with Montana ($2.60) at 14th and Utah ($2.60) at 15th.
Oil market dynamics
Last week’s EIA report showed that U.S. crude oil stocks fell by 6 million bbl since the end of September with almost 2 million bbl in exports and refinery utilization down half a percentage point to 88.1 percent of total capacity. Decreasing fall demand combined with ample supply and slowed U.S. production has kept downward pressure on crude oil prices. While market watchers are keeping an eye on U.S. crude oil exports, attention is now focused on whether the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will extend their reduced production agreement beyond their March 2018 deadline in order to drive crude oil prices higher. Over the weekend OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said Saudi Arabia and Russia are leading discussions among cartel members about the future of their agreement and whether or not an extension is necessary to maintain market rebalancing efforts. OPEC members are scheduled to meet again in Vienna on November 30, to assess the market and discuss plans moving forward. Since late last year, efforts by OPEC to rebalance the market have had positive impacts on prices helping to buoy crude oil above the 2016 low of $26.21. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil teetered around the $50-dollar mark and just below all week, settling $1.50 lower at $49.29 per barrel at the close of Friday’s formal trading on the NYMEX.
Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
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