Gas Prices Up for 28 Days in a Row
The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has increased for 28 consecutive days for a total of 27 cents per gallon, which is the longest streak of rising prices since last spring. Today’s national average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $2.30 per gallon. Motorists are paying five cents more than one week ago and 26 cents more than one month ago to refuel their vehicles. The year-over-year discount at the pump has narrowed in recent weeks but remains lofty by historic standards. After yearly savings widened to as much as $1.25 per gallon on January 26, motorists are now saving $1.11 per gallon versus this same date last year.
Refineries are in the midst of conducting seasonal maintenance, a process that can limit fuel production and contribute to rising pump prices. In addition, there remains the potential for unexpected refinery problems to further impact production and cause temporary prices spikes in various regions. Last week an explosion at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance helped push up prices in California, while bitterly cold weather in the Northeast and Midwest led to a number of refinery problems in those areas. Ample domestic supply is expected to keep a ceiling on prices, though there is a good chance that prices will continue to rise this spring.
Compared to the start of February when motorists in 25 states enjoyed average prices below $2 per gallon, drivers in just two states today are paying an average price below this threshold. For the second week in a row, motorists in Utah ($1.95), Idaho (1.95) and Montana ($2.01) are paying the least per gallon to refuel their vehicles. On the other end of the spectrum, Hawaii ($3.04) remains the nation’s most expensive market for retail gasoline and is the only state with an average above $3 per gallon. California ($2.95), Alaska ($2.61), Nevada ($2.55) and New York ($2.49) round out the top five most expensive markets.
With the exception of Kentucky (-6 cents) and Illinois (-2 cents), most American drivers are paying a bit more to refuel their vehicles than a week ago. Prices have inched higher in 48 states and Washington, D.C. with four states registering increases of a dime or more per gallon: California (+16 cents), Nevada (+ 11 cents), Oregon (+11 cents) and Washington (+10 cents). The overall trend of rising prices is also apparent in two-week price comparisons, where the average price is up in 49 states and Washington, D.C. Drivers in more than half (27) of states are paying a dime or more per gallon. Hawaii (-1 cent) is the only state where the price has fallen over this two-week period.
Month-over-month prices have jumped in 47 states and Washington, D.C. Consumers in 19 of these states are paying a quarter or more per gallon compared to one month ago, led by: California (+49 cents), Ohio (+43 cents), Michigan (+39 cents) and Illinois (+37 cents). Retail averages moved lower over this same period in three states and drivers in Hawaii (-23 cents), Alaska (-15 cents) and Vermont (fractions of a penny) are experiencing monthly savings at the pump.
Rising pump prices are beginning to erode, but historic declines from September to January continue to mean significant year-over-year savings at the pump. The price for retail gasoline remains discounted in every state and Washington D.C., and consumers in 46 states and Washington, D.C are saving more than $1 per gallon, led by four states with yearly savings of more than $1.25 per gallon: Connecticut ($1.35), Colorado ($1.31), Utah ($1.29) and Idaho ($1.29).
Global crude oil prices remain volatile, with markets continuing to seesaw and West Texas Intermediate crude oil last week posting its first weekly loss in a month. The balance between global supply and demand continues to weigh on prices, and despite U.S. production companies reassessing plans for exploration and production amid shrinking profit margins, domestic crude oil inventories climbed to record levels and output rose to its highest level since 1973, according to a Department of Energy report released last week.
WTI closed last week at its lowest level since February 11, settling down 82 cents at $50.34 per barrel at the close of Friday’s formal trading on the NYMEX.