National gas prices down 2.7 cents, for 2nd week

For the second straight week, the national average price of gasoline has decreased, falling 2.7 cents to $2.84 per gallon today 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 now stands 12.9 cents higher than a month ago and nearly 88 cents higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel has fallen 1.2 cents in the last week and stands at $3.08 per gallon.

“After the feverish rise in gas prices to start the year, increases have largely tapered off and we’re now seeing decreasing prices in most areas of the country, thanks to oil prices that have moderated for the time being,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.

“As the Suez Canal has remained blocked for nearly a week, we could see some volatility in the price of oil this week as the market digests any updates as hundreds of ships remain in limbo.

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Back stateside, refiners have made the switch to summer gasoline and price impacts have been limited thus far, but demand for gasoline remains strong. Last week saw total gasoline demand at yet another pandemic high according to GasBuddy data.

As we approach warmer weather and motorists are increasingly getting outside, it could drive prices higher, so long as COVID-19 cases don’t jump along with it and lead to new travel restrictions.”

OIL PRICES
The price of oil has been largely flat in the last week, though volatile, due to the MV Ever Given being stuck in the Suez Canal, kinking the oil supply chain. In early Monday trade, a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil stood up 14 cents at $61.11 per barrel, slightly lower than its start last Monday, when it traded at $61.60. Brent crude oil was up 22 cents in early Monday trade at $64.82 per barrel, slightly higher than where it stood a week ago at $64.55.

Rising COVID-19 cases in Europe have put downward pressure on oil prices with the Suez Canal blockage acting to put bullish pressure on prices, but with the uptick in COVID in Europe, there appears to be less pressure for those oil shipments to make on-time deliveries. In the U.S., an uptick in COVID-19 cases may also be providing some anxiety into the oil market.

The oil rig count in the U.S. has improved slightly in the last week with 6 rigs entering service, but still 311 fewer than a year ago. Canada saw a drop in rig count of 11, bringing their count up 27 from a year ago. Oil rig counts are a lagging indicator, but may show how producers respond to prices.

OIL INVENTORIES
Data from the Energy Information Administration last week was quite similar to the prior week period, showing a rise of 1.9 million barrels in crude inventories, a 200,000 barrel rise in gasoline inventories, and a 3.8 million barrel rise in distillate inventories.

Refinery utilization rates also further recovered after the extreme cold in Texas over a month ago with utilization up 5.5% to 81.6%. Gasoline production fell last week while distillate production jumped. Implied gasoline demand was up 174,000 barrels per day to 8.62 million barrels per day, with YTD implied demand running about 10% below last year.

FUEL DEMAND
According to a new dataset being released by GasBuddy, U.S. gasoline demand continued to rise for the week ending March 27, as Americans continued to get outside amidst better conditions and fewer travel restrictions. National gasoline demand rose 1.95%, while demand rose 2.6% in PADD 1, rose 1.9% in PADD 2, fell 0.3% in PADD 3, rose 11.1% in PADD 4 and rose 2.0% in PADD 5.

Weekly gasoline demand last week again set another new pandemic high, rising to just 3% above the last pre-pandemic figures from mid-March 2020, but still stand down several percentage points from what would be considered normal for late March.

GAS PRICE TRENDS

  • The most common U.S. gas price encountered by motorists was $2.69 per gallon, unchanged from last week, followed by $2.79, $2.59 and $2.89.
  • The average cost at the priciest 10% of stations stands at $3.72 per gallon, up 2 cents from a week ago, while the lowest 10% average $2.43 per gallon, down 5 cents from a week ago.
  • The median U.S. price is $2.75 per gallon, down 2 cents from last week and about 9 cents lower than the national average.
  • The states with the lowest average prices: Mississippi ($2.57), South Carolina ($2.58) and Texas ($2.59).
  • The states with the highest priced states: California ($3.88), Hawaii ($3.63) and Washington ($3.32).
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