Prices Turn Downward, Although Crude Remains Higher
Gas prices across the United States continued to relax during the past week, this following a month-long price surge that peaked in the days immediately surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday. The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas, at the national level, is now $3.24, although drivers in some regions are enjoying $3.00 gas. The lowest official price, according to the weekly gas price survey from the Energy Information Administration, is $3.05, along the Gulf Coast.
Prices in the New England states and across the Central Atlantic actually rose by about a penny per gallon, according to this week’s EIA report. Prices in California and across the broader West Coast region were primarily flat, although some price declines were seen in scattered areas. The biggest price drops, during the past week, were in the Midwest and Gulf Coast, where prices were down by over 5¢ in each region.
For truckers, the news about this week’s diesel prices is more tempered. Diesel prices across the U.S. declined by about a penny in many regions, although for most drivers, prices were fairly flat, week over week. The price of a gallon of diesel, nationally, fell from $3.88 last week to $3.87 this week.
Prices Remain Above Seasonal Lows
For drivers nationwide, gas prices remain above their November 11 low, when the nationwide average had fallen to about $3.19 per gallon. In many regions, the price was well below $3.00, with the Gulf Coast enjoying the lowest prices of all regions, at $2.98. However, prices began ticking upward the following week, only to surge over the Thanksgiving holiday and in the days afterward.
The volatility in prices came from a number of sources, from geopolitical conflicts in Africa and the Middle East, to refinery issues in the United States. Futures prices jumped dramatically the week following Thanksgiving.
The price of West Texas Intermediate has slipped from its high on December 10, when prices reached $98.67 per barrel, for January delivery. The WTI remained above $97 per barrel on Tuesday afternoon, and prices are well above their low of $92.36, on November 27.
Brent Light Sweet Crude, meanwhile, remains near $110 per barrel, having come off its early-December peak of $112.24, the highest it had been in 18 months. Brent, as a benchmark commodity, peaked about one week before dragging the WTI with it, in a speculative upturn driven by the lingering political instability in Libya and a dramatic decline in crude inventories at the start of the month.