Prices Take A Breather, But It Could Be A Short Pause
The price of consumer gasoline leveled off in most areas during the past week, although the Gulf Coast and Rocky Mountain regions experienced a decline in gas prices of two and four cents, respectively. Overall, however, the change in the price of unleaded gas was negligable, providing a cooling off period, of sorts, in the wake of heated price increases the previous week.
For the current survey period, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded was flat, at $3.27, according to the latest weekly survey from the Energy Information Administration. The price of diesel was also flat, nationwide, while drivers on the West Coast did experience a slight dip in per gallon prices, about two cents.
Stability In Prices Not Likely To Last
The relief from rising gas prices is not likely to endure, however, as crude oil prices continue to spike and refinery inventories shrink ahead of the Christmas holiday. October and early November’s trend toward seasonal and yearly low prices came to an about-face over the Thanksgiving weekend amid geopolitical problems in Libya, primarily a prolonged strike has prevented oil supplies from being loaded on transports. Word from political leaders in the North African nation Tuesday was that oil shipments could resume this weekend, perhaps on Sunday.
Crude Prices Up, Inventories Down
In the United States, a decline in crude oil inventories caught many industry analysts off guard, as inventories shrank by more than twice the expected rate during the past week, according to the American Petroleum Institute. The API report showed crude inventories dropped by about 7.5 million barrels during the week ending December 6; the forecast had been for a 3-million barrel decline.
Political instability abroad and declining crude supplies domestically have taken their toll on the futures markets, which TurnpikeInfo.com reported last week had begun to spike. West Texas Intermediate has been the most volatile, falling to a low of about $93 per barrel the day before Thanksgiving, only to go ballistic last week. The price of WTI moved closer to $99 Tuesday afternoon, althoug the price remained under that threshold at $98.54. Meanwhile, Brent Light Sweet Crude came off its highs last week; Brent is currently at just under $110 per barrel.