Following the holiday weekend, which saw 49 million Americans traveling on roadways, gas prices across the country saw minimal fluctuation, with most states seeing decreases on the week, according to AAA.
The national gas price average is one cent cheaper than last Monday at $2.58. The average is three cents cheaper than last month, but 12 cents more expensive than this time last year.
“Gasoline stocks have steadily increased the past few weeks as gasoline demand has started to slow,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “This trend is creating cheaper gas prices for the majority of motorists.”
In its latest report for the week ending Nov. 22, Energy Information Administration (EIA) data shows a substantial 5.1 million bbl build in gasoline stocks amid flat gasoline demand.
Great Lakes and Central States
On the week, there is minimal volatility at pumps across the Great Lakes and Central region. Only Ohio (+15 cents) and Wisconsin (+2 cents) saw gas prices increase. All other state averages are cheaper or the same as they were last Monday, with Indiana (-6 cents) and Michigan (-5 cents) seeing the largest decreases. Ohio ($2.60), Indiana ($2.43) and Michigan ($2.45) all land on the top 10 list for largest weekly changes.
In the region, gas prices range from $2.63 in Illinois to $2.23 in Missouri. These states rank as the 17th most expensive and the third least expensive state averages, respectively, in the country.
Gas prices in the region saw low volatility due to an increase in refinery rates and a substantial build (1.6 million bbl) in gasoline stocks, according to EIA data. Total stocks sit at 48 million bbl and are poised to continue increasing, leading to cheaper gas prices in December.
Mid-Atlantic and Northeast
Only four states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast have more expensive gas prices on the week: North Carolina (+3 cents), Washington, D.C. (+1 cents), Rhode Island (+1 cent) and New Hampshire (+1 cent). All other state averages in the region saw a penny decrease or no movement on the week. Gas prices range from $2.79 to $2.31, with the majority of state averages ranging between $2.47 to $2.56.
Compared to a year ago, a handful of state averages are seeing more than a dime savings: Connecticut (-12 cents), Rhode Island (-11 cents), Massachusetts (-11 cents) and New York (-11 cents).
The region saw a small build in gasoline stocks. The EIA’s latest report shows an 800,000 bbl increase amid a nearly 3% jump in regional refinery utilization. Should stocks and refinery rates continue to increase, motorists in the region can expect gas prices to decrease.
South and Southeast
Florida (+7 cents) saw the second largest increase in the country and the largest in the South and Southeast region on the week. Georgia ($2.44), South Carolina ($2.29), Alabama ($2.28) and Louisiana ($2.22) also saw increases, but only by a penny. The largest pump price decrease on the week was two cents, which was seen in New Mexico ($2.48), Oklahoma ($2.26) and Texas ($2.23).
For a second week, the region saw gasoline stocks increase. EIA data shows the latest build was 2.2 million bbl. Stocks now sit at 82.8 million bbl, a high level not seen since this summer. Refinery rates decreased slightly from 92.4% to 91.1%. Should inventory levels stay high, gas prices are likely to decrease in the coming week.
Pump prices in the region have declined on the week, with some states seeing the largest weekly drops in the country. California (-6 cents), Washington (-3 cents), Alaska (-3 cents) and Oregon (-2 cents) saw the largest decreases in the region.
California ($3.80) and Hawaii ($3.65) remain the most expensive markets in the country. Washington ($3.31), Nevada ($3.28), Oregon ($3.19), Alaska ($3.11) and Arizona ($2.91) follow.
Increased gasoline stocks have helped to put downward pressure on pump prices, as demand remains robust. According to EIA’s report for the week ending on Nov. 22, gas stocks in the region grew by nearly 400,000 bbl, bringing the total to 28.87 million bbl. The current supply level is 1.88 million bbl higher than last year’s level at this time, which will likely continue to put downward pressure on prices throughout the week.
State gas price averages in the Rockies are as much as three cents cheaper starting the week: Utah (-3 cents), Idaho (-3 cents) and Wyoming (-1 cent). Montana ($2.69) and Colorado ($2.79) saw no change.
Compared to gas prices at the beginning of last month (November), today’s state averages are fairly consistent. Utah (+10 cents) is the exception.
While gasoline stocks saw a minimal increase (100,000 bbl), regional refinery rates increased more than 3% to 87.5%, per EIA data. Should both stocks and refinery rates continue to increase, gas prices will decrease.
Oil Market Dynamics
At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI decreased by $2.94 cents to settle at $55.14. Continued market fear that tension between China and the U.S. — the world’s two largest crude consumers – will reduce crude demand moving into next year helped push prices down. Additionally, domestic crude prices decreased after the U.S. hit a record high production level of 12.9 million b/d, according to EIA’s latest weekly petroleum status report. If tension between China and the U.S. persists this week, crude prices could slide further.
In related news, total domestic crude inventories increased by 1.6 million bbl last week, bringing the new total to 452 million bbl. The current level is 1.5 million bbl higher than last year’s level at this same time.