Gas Prices Trend Cheaper, but Increases are Likely Looming
On the week, the national gas price average is two cents cheaper at $2.90. Today’s national average is only one cent more expensive than a month ago, but 60 cents more expensive than a year ago.
Nationwide, 44 states have less expensive or steady gas price averages compared to last week. However, the cheaper trend may be reversing. Gasoline demand spiked in the latest Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) report, in fact setting a new all-time record at 9.88 million b/d for the week ending June 8. As demand skyrockets, U.S. gasoline inventories plummeted 2.27 million bbl, to land total inventories at 237 million bbl, which is 5.7 million below stocks last year at this time.
“If demand continues to strengthen and inventories decrease in the weeks ahead, motorists can expect gas prices do a reversal and start to increase again,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA gas price expert. “AAA expects the national gas price average to range between $2.85 and $3.05 through Labor Day, likely seeing the summer’s highest prices in June.”
Locally, South Jersey motorists are paying an average of $2.81 per gallon of unleaded gas. This is a decrease of 4 cents per gallon from last week, and 10 cents from last month. However, today’s price is 56 cents per gallon more than last year.
Moving into this week, another factor that will influence gas prices in the near and long-term will be outcomes from the June 22 OPEC meeting in Vienna, Austria. The cartel, along with other major producers including Russia, will discuss increasing oil production ahead of the year-end scheduled dissolution of its production reduction agreement. Some reports indicate that OPEC could be looking at an increase of 300,000 to 600,000 b/d to help ease global crude price gains that have grown since the cartel put its production reduction agreement into place at the beginning of 2017. An increase in production would likely decrease crude oil prices and encourage cheaper gas prices.
- The nation’s top 10 most expensive markets are: Hawaii ($3.73), California ($3.71), Washington ($3.45), Alaska ($3.43), Oregon ($3.32), Nevada ($3.31), Utah ($3.19), Idaho ($3.19), Connecticut ($3.11) and Arizona ($3.07).
- The nation’s top 10 largest weekly changes are: Ohio (-10 cents), Florida (-5 cents), Delaware (-5 cents), Indiana (+5 cents), Virginia (-5 cents), Utah (+4 cents), Maryland (-4 cents), Iowa (-4 cents), Kansas (-4 cents) and Illinois (-4 cents).
Motorists in the West Coast region are paying the highest pump prices in the country, with all states on the top 10 most expensive list: Hawaii ($3.73), California ($3.71), Washington ($3.45), Alaska ($3.43), Oregon (3.32), Nevada ($3.31) and Arizona ($3.07). On the week, prices continue to mostly decline in the region by a penny or two. However, Hawaii and Alaska each increased by a penny.
According to EIA data for the week ending on June 8, inventories of gasoline grew by 400,000 bbl to reach 31.5 million bbl. Although inventories in the region now sit at their highest level for the second week of June since 2001, ongoing planned maintenance at Shell’s 158,000 b/d Martinez, CA refinery in the Bay area may restrict supplies this week.
Mid-Atlantic and Northeast
Gas prices are one to five cents cheaper across all states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region with Delaware (-5 cents), Virginia (-4 cents), Maryland (-4 cents) and New Jersey (-4 cents) seeing the largest drops on the week. Even with the cheaper pump prices, four states continue to sell gas for $3 or more: Connecticut ($3.11), New York ($3.05), Pennsylvania ($3.04) and Washington, D.C. ($3.01).
Today’s gas prices are 50 to 64 cents more expensive compared to last year at this time with West Virginia seeing the smallest and Connecticut seeing the largest increases year-over-year.
Regional gasoline inventories fell to 65.6 million bbl after a 1.3 million bbl drop on the week. This latest decrease brings the year-over-year deficit for the region to 3.4 million bbl, according to EIA data.
Oil market dynamics
At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI decreased $1.83 cents to settle at $65.06. Oil prices trended marginally higher last week because of a stronger dollar. Looking ahead, this week’s prices will likely see fluctuation ahead of Friday’s OPEC meeting.
According to EIA’s latest weekly petroleum status report, total U.S. production jumped to around 10.9 million b/d, up about 100,000 b/d on the week. However, total crude inventories fell by 4.1 million bbl. Increasing crude exports supported the drop. Last week, exports of crude oil stood at 2.03 million b/d, a week-on-week gain of 316,000 b/d.
Domestic investment in crude production continues to grow. Last week, the U.S. added another oil rig, bringing the current total to 863. When compared to last year’s rig count at this time, there are 116 more active rigs today.
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.