“Depending on where in the country you are filling up your tank, gasoline prices are playing tricks on some motorists with large increases on the week and treating others to lower gas prices,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “The price volatility can be attributed to a new trend that has emerged during October in the last few years, which is an unexpectedly steady demand for gasoline after the end of the summer driving season.”
Despite the fluctuation, AAA forecasts that the national average gas price will decrease as the holidays approach.
- The nation’s top ten markets with the largest monthly changes are: Georgia (-27 cents), Florida (-23 cents), Alabama (-22 cents), Tennessee (-22 cents), South Carolina (-21 cents), Mississippi (-20 cents), North Carolina (-20 cents), Texas (-19 cents), Indiana (+16 cents) and Virginia (-14 cents).
- The nation’s top ten least expensive markets are: Mississippi ($2.19), Alabama ($2.19), South Carolina ($2.21), Louisiana ($2.22), Arkansas ($2.22), Texas ($2.23), Tennessee ($2.25), Virginia ($2.26), Missouri ($2.26) and Oklahoma ($2.30).
South and Southeast
Seven South and Southeast states land on this week’s top 10 markets in the country with the cheapest gas prices: Mississippi ($2.19), Alabama ($2.19), South Carolina ($2.21), Louisiana ($2.22), Arkansas ($2.22), Texas ($2.23) and Oklahoma ($2.30).
On the week, Georgia (-4 cents) saw the largest drop in gas prices, followed by Florida (-3 cents), Alabama (-2 cents), Mississippi (-2 cents) and Texas (-1 cent). Conversely, Oklahoma (+6 cents) and Arkansas (+2 cents) are paying more on the week.
After three weeks of inventory builds, regional inventory on the week decreased by 2.4 million bbl to 77.6 million bbl. The decline hits as Gulf Coast refineries utilization capacity surpassed 90 percent for the first time since Hurricane Harvey made landfall in the U.S., indicating that the inventory drop is likely due to exports. But it is worth noting that according to the latest Energy Information Administration (EIA), overall inventory levels for the region are sitting at a half a million more than this time last year
Mid-Atlantic and Northeast
Gas prices are volatile in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions with Delaware ($2.37) seeing prices jump up eight cents on the week while two states – New Hampshire ($2.47) and Washington, D.C. ($2.68) – saw no changes during the last seven days. In addition to Delaware, these states also are paying more at the pump on the week: New Jersey (+4 cents), Maryland (+4 cents), West Virginia (+4 cents), Maine (+3 cents) and Pennsylvania (+3 cents). A handful of states saw small drops (-1 cent) on the week: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and Rhode Island.
According to the EIA, gasoline inventories dropped by 1 million on the week to a total of 56.9 million bbl in the region – a 6 million bbl deficit compared to this time last year. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the region shipped inventory to hard-hit areas in the South and Southeast and with a recent uptick in exports, overall inventories are tightening.
Great Lakes and Central
The Great Lakes and Central states collectively are seeing gas prices increase more than any other region in the country. On the week, motorists are paying one to 12 cents more at the pump with Ohio (+12 cents), Indiana (+8 cents), Illinois (+7 cents), Missouri (+6 cents), Minnesota (+5 cents) and Nebraska (+4 cents) seeing the largest increases. Only two states in the region are not on the increase trend: Michigan (-8 cent) and Kansas (no change). Illinois is selling the most expensive gas at $2.59/gallon for unleaded.
The Great Lakes and Central region has seen gasoline inventories decline for five weeks straight. At 46.6 million bbl, inventories register at the lowest level of the year and 4.65 million bbl below year ago levels. As supply tightens, gas prices are increasing for motorists in the region.
Moving into the week, the West Coast continues to lead the U.S. among most expensive markets. Six of the top ten most expensive markets in the country are found in this region: Hawaii ($3.15), Alaska ($3.04), California ($3.04), Washington ($2.91), Oregon ($2.75) and Nevada ($2.72). Prices are mostly stable on the week, with Hawaii (+4 cents) and Alaska (+2 cents) seeing the largest increases of the most expensive markets.
In EIA’s latest report, total gasoline stocks along the West Coast declined 400,000 bbl to 28.7 million bbl. The current amount is still about a million bbl higher than last year at the same time. This week’s slight decline demonstrates that demand this fall has kept supplies at a healthy level, helping to stabilize prices in the region.
Motorists are seeing small changes to gas prices on the week in the Rockies. Both Colorado (+1 cent) and Wyoming (+1 cent) motorists are paying slightly more at the pump while Utah (-3 cents), Idaho (- 1 cent) and Montana (-1 cent) are paying less on the week. Inventories saw a slight build of 136,000 bbl, according to the EIA’s latest report.
Oil market dynamics
At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI closed at $53.90/bbl, with a gain of $1.26 for the day. Oil prices may continue pushing higher this week, following the release of EIA’s latest report that showed exports of U.S. crude surpassed 1.9 million b/d for the second time in the last four weeks. The growth in exports has helped the price gain amid concerns that global supply is tightening as OPEC’s production reduction agreement has greater influence over the oil market. Additionally, total U.S. crude inventories rose by 900,000 bbl as inputs to refineries rose by 609,000 b/d. The refinery increases are likely due to production levels stabilizing above 16 million b/d after restarts of several Gulf Coast as a precaution ahead of Hurricane Nate’s landfall earlier this month.
Last week, Baker Hughes, Inc. reported that the U.S. gained one oil rig, bringing the total to 737. The news comes amid reports over the weekend that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will continue cutting oil output to comply with the OPEC and non-OPEC production cut agreement set in place until March 2018. The UAE’s compliance with the agreement has been under question, as many other participant countries have made drastic production cuts in an effort to reduce global supply. OPEC and allied non-OPEC producers will review the agreement at a Nov. 30 meeting in Vienna, where they may decide to take further steps to deepen the agreement’s impact on the market.
Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.