As Predicted By, Gas Prices Start Late-Summer Increase

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Download the weekly EIA gas price survey.

The price of gasoline has begun to slip upward, as predicted by in our last story about the cost of fuels. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s weekly gas price survey shows gasoline prices fell in New England and across the West Coast of the United States, but the cost of driving increased for nearly everyone else. The average price of a gallon of gas is up about a penny over last week, but some areas, particularly the Midwest, were hit with a 2¢ to 3¢ increase in gas prices. The survey tracks the average regional cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline.

The news for truckers, however, was even worse. The cost of a gallon of diesel fuel was up in every region of the U.S., and the potential for an autumn spike in prices looms with continued unrest in the oil futures markets. The cost of diesel hit a U.S. average of $3.91 per gallon this week, although prices in California and across the West Coast are much higher. In some areas, the average diesel cost is hovering around $4.16 per gallon.

The Syria situation has thrown new waves of jitters into the oil futures markets, which had already been surging for October deliveries. The price of Brent and West Texas Intermediate futures both spiked amid news of possible chemical weapons use in the lengthy Syrian civil war, coupled with continued unrest in Egypt that could threaten shipping lanes in the Red Sea, The Gulf of Suez, the Mediterranean Sea and the Suez Canal that connects them.
The potential of a U.S. missle strike loomed Tuesday morning, with some officials at the Obama Administration telling NBC news a military action could come as early as Thursday. U.S. warships and aircraft carriers in the region have already been repositioned for such an attack.

Despite the unrest and current pricing trends, overall fuel prices are still off their highs of the year, and prices are considerably lower than at this time in 2012. The price of gasoline is anywhere from 20¢ to 30¢ per gallon less than last year, and diesel prices are lower by about the same amount. Whether the year over year price break remains intact, however, will depend largely on futures markets and investors’ fears about supply going into the fall and winter seasons.

Farmers’ Almanac is been cited by numerous media in the past 24 hours, after that publication predicted a bitterly cold and snowy winter across the U.S. That kind of forecast could cause investors to bid higher on oil futures, with the expectation of high demands for heating oil, propane, kerosene and natural gas.

Cost Of Driving Keeps Falling, But For How Long?

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Weekly gas price survey

Gasoline prices continued to fall during the past week, with the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded dropping about a penny per gallon, according to the latest survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Drivers in California and the West Coast enjoyed bigger declines of five to six cents per gallon.

However, if the oil futures markets are any indicator, the price of gas could be about to swing higher during September. In fact, the one region of the U.S. where gas prices are broadly higher is the Midwest, and that typically is an early indicator of an increase in fuel costs for drivers.

School bus:
Oil futures are higher over the past several weeks, an indicator gas prices are about to go higher in September. Such an increase could cost parents who drive their children to school rather than use a school bus.

The situation could be particularly troublesome for commuters with children, as the back-to-school rush is kicking into high gear. Many counties’ school districts opened for the new school year this week, with more coming on board in the coming week and immediately following the Labor Day Holiday, which is September 2.

For parents who drive their children to school, rather than sending their children to school on a bus, the increase in oil futures, coupled with the uptick in gas prices in the Midwest, could portend a costlier commute in the coming weeks.

Diesel fuel costs began a reversal of their recent downward pricing trends, as the average price of a gallon of diesel remained largely flat or notched higher across most regions of the United States. The average trucker is now paying about $3.90 for fuel in the U.S., alghough prices in some regions of the Untied States, particularly California, are well above $4.00 per gallon. Most school districts’ bus fleets also use diesel fuel, and a price increase will likely squeeze school budgets and cause districts’ school boards to reassess monetary priorities, in the event of a large price increase in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the year-over-year numbers are actually a bright spot, with gas prices lower for most drivers versus the back-to-school period in 2012. The average gas price is down about 19¢ per gallon versus last year, while diesel prices are lower by 13¢.


Gas Price Relief Comes As Parents Prep For Back-to-School

Download Gas Price Survey
Download the weekly EIA gas price survey.

The heat may linger, but gas prices are beginning to fall further from their summer highs as the back-to-school rush gets into full swing. That good news has been noticeable in nearly every region of the United States, as the cost of a gallon of regular unleaded dropped between 6¢ and 11¢ per gallon, with the biggest relief felt across the Midwest, where the summer started with a torrent of price hikes to match the torrent of bad weather in May. New England and California, where prices usually are higher than the U.S. average, enjoyed smaller declines in the cost of gas, with people from Maine to Massachusetts  paying about 3¢ less per gallon and West Coast drivers paying about 4¢ less.

Drivers in the Rocky Mountain states did not witness a decline in fuel prices, and some even felt a tighter grip by the pump this week. Across the region, prices remained mostly flat, although some stations raised prices by a penny or two. The Rocky Mountain region and California are the only two areas of the U.S. where prices are currently higher than they were last year at this time. Prices across the Rockies are up more than 14¢ per gallon versus their 2012 levels; California prices are up about 4¢.

Gas prices now at pre-summer levels.
Aside from a brief mid-summer drop, gas prices have not been at their current levels since the start of May.

For the most of rest of the country, prices this week are down from 2012 numbers by between 10¢ and 15¢ per gallon, although drivers across the Midwestern states are enjoying prices over 30¢ below this time last year. Gas prices, overall have not been this low since a dip in prices in early-July, which lasted less than two weeks. Prior to that, prices were last at this level in the weeks just before the Memorial Day holiday.

Truckers and other drivers of diesel trucks and cars enjoyed a slight drop in the price of fuel, but the weekly declines were not nearly as noticeable as for regular fuels. The average diesel driver enjoyed about a penny’s worth of relief at the per gallon level. However, like regular gas, the year-over-year numbers are more satisfying. The average U.S. price of a gallon of diesel is down about 7¢ from this time in 2012.



Gas and Diesel Prices Slip Downward In Nearly Every Region

Gas pump icon
Weekly gas price survey

Gas and diesel prices retreated from their mid-summer spike during the past week, according to the latest price survey from the U.S. Energy Information Adminstration. For gasoline, prices dipped by an average of just over a penny per gallon, for regular unleaded.

Most regions that enjoyed a price break saw declines betwen 2¢ and 4¢ per gallon. However, drivers in the Midwest endured another increase in prices at the pump.

Overall, drivers across the United States have watched fuel prices bounce in a fairly narrow range during the past three months, although weather and refinery issues did impact gas prices across the Midwest in May and early June.

Fuel prices nationwide are an average of $3.63 per gallon, with prices mostly lower along the Lower Atlantic and Gulf Coast states, and higher across the New England states and across the broad Western U.S.Diesel fuel remained nearly steady or was lower in most areas of the United States last week.

The EIA reported the average price of diesel was down about a penny per gallon, although prices in the Rocky Mountain states and the West Coast, particularly California, notched upward one to two cents.

Diesel fuel is currently averaging $3.91 per gallon across the United States, but truckers and diesel car drivers in New England and the West Coast are paying well over $4.00 per gallon. The average price of a gallon of diesel in California is currently $4.13, according to the EIA.