National gas price average remains unchanged

(GasBuddy) The national average price of gasoline has halted its weeks long rise, remaining at $2.54 per gallon, yet most states saw prices continue to rise as few states saw prices plunge.

38 of the nation’s 50 states saw average prices rise, while the national average was unchanged, primarily due to big drops in the Great Lakes, ahead of a likely price rebound there in the coming week.

“After several weeks of rising gasoline prices, it appears that perhaps the tide has turned and the bigger increases have started to fade,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “Oil prices remain near multi-year highs but do show some signs of buckling at least slightly, but for motorists, we have not and may not see sizable relief just yet. Great Lakes refinery issues continue to flare up with no warning, and gas prices there may continue to be more volatile in coming weeks. Meanwhile, total U.S. oil inventories stand 127 million barrels lower than a year ago, which has led gas prices to these seasonally high levels. What continues to impress is the large spread in prices between stations nearby, even as gas prices remain somewhat low, unsuspecting motorists have seen price differences of 10 to as much as 50 cents per gallon between neighboring stations in some large cities.”

According to the Energy Information Administration in its weekly report, delayed by a day due to the holiday last week, crude oil inventories continued to plunge, falling another 6.9 million barrels in the last week. Total oil inventories now stand nearly 73 million barrels lower than they did a year ago. Meanwhile, gasoline inventories posted a healthy rise of 3.6 million barrels, not unusual for this time of year as demand remains seasonally weak and refinery utilization remains strong. Distillate inventories, however, saw a plunge of nearly 4 million barrels, offering support for the slight rise in average diesel prices in the last week. Refinery utilization remained strong but slipped to 93%, possibly a sign that refineries are beginning their maintenance ahead of the summer driving season.

Looking state-by-state, the largest weekly changes in average gas prices were seen in: Michigan (-11 cents), Indiana (-9 cents), Illinois (-6 cents), Ohio (-6 cents), Florida (+5 cents), Oklahoma (+4 cents), New Mexico (-4 cents), North Dakota (+4 cents), Pennsylvania (+4 cents) and Louisiana (+4 cents).

States with the lowest average gasoline prices: Mississippi ($2.30), Missouri ($2.30), Texas ($2.30), Alabama ($2.30), South Carolina ($2.31), Arkansas ($2.32), Oklahoma ($2.33), Tennessee ($2.36), Louisiana ($2.36) and Wyoming ($2.37).

States with the highest average gasoline prices: Hawaii ($3.35), California ($3.18), Alaska ($3.12), Washington ($2.91), Pennsylvania ($2.84), Oregon ($2.77), Nevada ($2.75), Connecticut ($2.70), New York ($2.70) and New Jersey ($2.62).

With oil prices giving up $1 or so per barrel over the last week, more states will see gasoline prices stabilizing in the coming week while Great Lakes states are likely to see a spike before the weekend.