Gasoline prices across the country are on the move, and while the national average is slightly higher to start this week than last, some regions are still enjoying falling gasoline prices. Just four days this February has the national average for gasoline increased, while falling for the remaining into an 18th today- to $1.709 a gallon Monday morning according to GasBuddy which supplies the data for wane.com’s Gas Gauge.
The story at the pump in the last week is marked by extremes: West Coast states saw dramatic declines, led by Arizona (10 cents), California (9.1 cents) and Nevada (9 cents), while Alaska and Hawaii fell 7.3 cents.
However, dramatic increases struck in the Midwest and Great Lakes: Minnesota led all states, rising 18.2 cents Following with over 10-cent jumps were Michigan (14.8 cents), Indiana (13.7 cents), Ohio (13 cents), Wisconsin (12.5 cents), Illinois (12.2 cents) and Iowa (10.1 cents). The West Coast enjoyed what the Midwest previously had: a fire sale of gasoline, brought on by a messy situation as refiners attempt to transition to cleaner summer fuels. In the Midwest, the party was ruined by refiners who began to make run cuts, as economics pushed them to the brink.
Oil prices last week closed the week higher, locking in a 4.5% gain on the week, and look to extend that rally Monday morning as oil prices are up over 5% currently. Much of the direction of crude oil prices this week will likely be dictated by ever continued discussion of oil production cuts from major players: Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iran and Russia. Meanwhile, rig counts in the U.S. dropped to a total of 514, down 27 from a week ago and 796 rigs (61%) lower than last year. In Canada, rig counts fell by 16 (7%) to 206 (down 154 or 43% versus a year ago).
Diesel prices start the week at $1.978 a gallon, almost 90 cents lower than a year ago while gasoline sits 59 cents lower than last year. The gas price climate across the U.S. shows some 22.7% of stations selling under $1.50 per gallon, while just 31.7% of stations are over $2 a gallon. The gap between the nation’s highest 5% and lowest 5% of gas stations stands at $1.12/gallon- it has narrowed considerably as the nation sees consolidation in pricing- the Midwest has seen increases from the bottom while the West Coast has seen drops from the top.
For motorists, even those in the West Coast, any remaining gas price declines are racing against the clock as we progress towards warmer weather, higher demand and summer specification fuels. While some areas- mainly the West Coast could see prices pushing lower- the weeks ahead will more likely be replaced with higher gasoline prices. Refinery utilization bounced back last week, suggesting that maintenance has not yet started en masse.