The spate of continuing gas price increases in the United States has continued, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest weekly gas price survey showed the West Coast and Deep South faced the highest week-over-week price increases of the year, so far. Some areas witnessed gas prices increasing by nearly 10-cents per gallon, putting greater strain on drivers filling up at the pump.
The relentless rise in gas prices finally caused the EIA to issue a news release today explaining the causes of the rising gas prices. The EIA statement details many of the issues outlined on TurnpikeInfo.com news last week, including the increasing cost of crude oil and the reduction of refinery capacity in the United States.
Meanwhile, one bright spot in the weekly survey was for Midwestern drivers, who have suffered higher-than-average price increases in per-gallon fuel costs since the start of the year. This week’s survey showed gasoline in the Midwest actually dropped nearly 3¢ per gallon, although prices remained over 11-cents per gallon higher than one year ago.
For truckers and other drivers of diesel-powered vehicles, the price of diesel continued to increase, albeit at a slower rate than has been seen since the end of 2012. Weekly diesel averages were up less than a penny per gallon. However, compared to this time last year, diesel prices are up by about 11-cents per gallon.
The cost of a gallon of gas continued its unrelenting march to $4.00 per gallon this week as the average cost for a gallon of regular unleaded fuel reached $3.75, up an average of 11¢ per gallon for each of the past two weeks. The price of a gallon of gas has gone up about 50¢ since Christmas Day, less than two months ago, making the average cost of a fill up about $8.00 more expensive for the average U.S. driver. The price is based on a 16-gallon tank filled from near empty. The price of fuel is detailed in this week’s survey from the Energy Information Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Energy.
While the cost of gasoline rises, the cost of diesel fuel has also continued to go up week after week since the start of the year. The average price of a gallon of diesel fuel topped out at $4.33 per gallon, for truckers and diesel car owners driving in New England this week. For the U.S. as a whole, the cost is about $4.16 for each gallon of diesel.
Part of the reason for the summer-time gas costs during February can be traced to a reduction in refinery capacity. Commodities trader Dennis Gartman told CNBC Tuesday, February 19, he believed the current cost of gas was traced to what he called an “extraordinary short squeeze” caused by BP and Hess each taking down large refineries. Gartman said the reduced refining capacity pulled “almost a half a million barrels of crude oil out of the market.” BP’s refinery in Whiting, Indiana is offline for routine maintenance, but the Hess refinery in New Jersey, which was closed in January, is slated to remain offline. That could create longer-term issues for fuel supplies.
The American Automobile Association reported the refinery closures are compounded by the fact crude oil, itself, is at nine-month highs, with Brent crude at over $119 per barrel. But, there is no consensus on just how high gas prices will rise or whether the current uptick in prices will continue at its current pace. Gartman told CNBC’s Fast Money he did not expect the fuel prices to keep going up; however, John Kilduff of Again Capital in New York told reporters Tuesday he would not be surprised if gas prices hit $5.00 per gallon.
Gas and diesel prices across the United States are heading back to their post-Summer highs as the week-over-week increase in the per-gallon price continues rising, hitting $3.61 per gallon as of February 11, 2013. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s weekly gas price survey shows the cost of driving will now set you back, on average, about $57.76 every fill up. That price is based on the current U.S. per-gallon average of regular unleaded, multiplied by 16 gallons, the average size of a gas tank on a mid-size car.
The latest jump in prices means gasoline has increased more than 25¢ per gallon since the end of January, with gas prices now at their highest level since September 2012, when the average U.S. cost of a gallon of gas peaked at $3.86.
The 2013 gas price trend is in line with the start of the 2012 calendar year, which saw gasoline prices jump from an average of $3.40 in January, peaking at $3.93 per gallon in May, before declining rapidly through July. The gas prices jumped again through the fall. A chart of the long-term gas price trend, by month, can be downloaded here.
Diesel prices also continued their weekly increase, although at a slower pace than during January. The EIA survey of diesel prices shows the cost of a gallon of fuel for truckers and diesel-car owners is now at just over $4.10 per gallon.
The rising cost of fuel has prompted some trucker publications, including Transport Topics, to offer tops to reduce fuel costs, particularly for fleet operators.
Gas prices surged by as much as 22-cents per gallon during the past week, according to the latest survey of the Energy Information Administration, a branch of the Department of Energy. The rise in case prices was felt from coast to coast, with prices in the Midwestern states rising the most, over 22¢ per gallon, while the West Coast felt a 13-cent rise in fuel prices. Including California, the U.S. West Coast gas price jumped by over 19¢ per gallon.
Across the Northeast and Atlantic States, gas prices jumped an average of 14-cents per gallon, week over week, with the average driver paying as much as $2.25 more per fill-up. The price is based on an average mid-size U.S. car with a 16-gallon fuel tank. If such a driver filled up twice per week, as a commuter, the likely monthly impact of the past week’s gas-price increase would average about $19.48 per month.
The prices come on the heels of average weekly gas price increases that have troubled U.S. drivers since the beginning of the year. There have been only a couple of weeks since January 1, 2013 when weekly gas prices have gone down, and such declines have been fairly minimal.
Meanwhile, the cost of diesel fuel has continued to increase during the past week, costing independent truckers and other shipping companies more to bring products to consumers. The average price of diesel across the U.S. increased by 10 cents during the past week. Diesel prices have typically outpaced the inflationary trend of regular unleaded gasoline, but this week that trend was snapped. As with regular gasoline prices, the Midwest witnessed the biggest price increase, at over 11-cents per gallon. New England diesel fuel prices went up the by the smallest amount, which was about 6-cents per gallon, on average.