For the fifth consecutive week, the nation’s average gas price has fallen, declining 15.8 cents from a week ago to $4.51 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 is down 47.9 cents from a month ago and $1.35 per gallon higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel has declined 10.8 cents in the last week and stands at $5.54 per gallon.
“We’ve seen the national average price of gasoline decline for a fifth straight week, with the pace of recent declines accelerating to some of the most significant we’ve seen in years. This trend is likely to reach a sixth straight week, with prices likely to fall again this week. Barring major hurricanes, outages or unexpected disruptions, I forecast the national average to fall to $3.99/gal by mid-August,“ said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. "So far, we’ve seen the national average drop for 34 straight days, with over 25,000 stations now back at $3.99 per gallon or less, and thousands more stations will join this week. In addition, we will see several states fall back under an average of $4, the majority being in the south, but that could spread to more states in the weeks ahead.”
With strong earnings announcements to kick off the week, crude oil prices were in rally mode, with a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil up $2.24 to $99.83 per barrel, still a drop from last week’s $101.39 start. Brent crude was also moving higher in early trade, up $2.62 to $103.78 per barrel, slightly lower than last Monday’s $104.16 level. Oil prices have fallen in four of the last five weeks, pulling refined products down in the process. Oil prices continue to be pulled in different directions as views of the global economy shift as new economic data hits markets. Last week, some initial earnings reports were mixed, sending oil lower, while today’s reports were more upbeat, sending oil higher. In addition, President Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia over the weekend doesn’t seem to have materialized in any new significant oil production announcements. China continues to see Covid-19 shutdowns as well, boosting the prospects that China could face a slowing economy or recession.
According to Baker Hughes, last week’s U.S. rig count was up 4 to 756, and was 272 rigs higher than a year ago. The Canadian rig count was up 16 to 191, 41 more than a year ago.
OIL AND REFINED PRODUCT INVENTORIES
Last week’s report from the Energy Information Administration was somewhat bearish, showing a 3.3 million barrel rise in U.S. oil inventories, which have closed the gap to last year (down 2.4%) as the SPR continues to drain (down 21.9% from year ago). Gasoline inventories were a surprise, soaring 5.8 million barrels, while distillate inventories jumped 2.7 million barrels. Gasoline was more the eye-opener, with implied demand plummeting to just 8.06 million barrels per day, one of the largest post-Independence Day drops, and one of the weakest numbers outside of Covid in 2020. Refinery utilization remained strong with refineries utilizing 94.9% of their capacity, with gasoline production dropping to 8.9 million barrels per day and distillate production falling to 5.1 million barrels per day.
According to GasBuddy demand data driven by its Pay with GasBuddy card, U.S. retail gasoline demand saw rise last week (Sun-Sat), as we near the peak of the summer driving season. Nationally, weekly gasoline demand rose 3.3% from the prior week, while demand rose 3.5% in PADD 1, rose 4.0% in PADD 2, rose 3.7% in PADD 3, rose 2.2% in PADD 4, and rose 0.3% in PADD 5.
GAS PRICE TRENDS
The most common U.S. gas price encountered by motorists stood at $3.99 per gallon, down 30 cents from last week, followed by $4.19, $4.39, $4.29, and $4.49 rounding out the top five most common prices.
The median U.S. price is $4.39 per gallon, down 16 cents from last week and about 12 cents lower than the national average.
The top 10% of stations in the country average $5.71/gal, while the bottom 10% average $3.82/gal.
The states with the lowest average prices: South Carolina ($3.99), Texas ($4.01), and Mississippi ($4.02).
The states with the highest prices: California ($5.89), Hawaii ($5.52), and Alaska ($5.36).