After Weeks Of Rapid Increases, Gas Prices Rise At Slower Pace
The cost of driving kept going up for most of us during the past week, according to the latest weekly survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. However, the weekly gas price increases, which have been dramatic of late, slowed considerably for many regions during the current survey period, with the nationwide-average barely budging.
Even so, some regions, like the Gulf Coast and the West Coast, endured another weighty increase in costs during the past week. The national average price for a gallon of gas, as of March 24, held steady at $3.55.
Drivers In Urban Cores Paying Much More Than National Or Home States’ Averages
For some states, particularly California, the cost of a gallon of regular unleaded neared the $4.00 mark, with many stations charging well above that figure. The average price of a gallon of gas in the Golden State is now $3.97; in other states, like New York, the price of gas is averaging about $3.75 per gallon.
But state averages do not tell the entire picture. In Florida, that $3.75 price point for the lowest-grade of unleaded is being charged to drivers at gas stations in many cities’ urban cores, even though the Sunshine State’s average per gallon price is $3.53 per gallon.
In Fort Lauderdale, prices at some stations were as much as 23¢ higher than the state averages. Moreover, weekly price increases have been moving at a faster pace than the national average.
Crude Inventories Rising, But Not At Biggest Storage Facility
U.S. Domestic crude oil inventories continued to rise during the past week, bringing the number of weekly increases of crude supplies to 10. Even so, the biggest crude inventory storage facility, located at Cushing, Oklahoma, saw another weekly decline of crude inventories. For the past seven weeks, inventories at Cushing have dropped about 29%, according to the EIA. However, many facilities and pipelines that have traditionally supplied Cushing have been able to bypass the facility and send their supplies directly to refineries on the east and west coasts, as well as to the Gulf of Mexico.
Even with an increase in broader crude inventories, nationally, overall gasoline inventories have been declining since the start of the year. In fact, gas inventories are down just over five-percent since the end of January, when a lag in consumer demand resulted in a short-term spike in supply.
The EIA reports the United States currently has about a 26-day supply of gasoline, not including the strategic petroleum reserve. The current inventory is line with the inventory supplies compared with data from this time one year ago.
Crude Futures Markets Mixed On Domestic And International News
Meanwhile, crude inventory prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange were flirting with the century mark in midday trading Tuesday, with prices of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) briefly trading just over $100 per barrel before retreating in the early afternoon. The current trades are for May contracts.
One analyst told Bloomberg News earlier Tuesday that he expected the WTI price point to drop as low as $95 per barrel by the end of the week, both on lower domestic demand and higher inventory data. Even so, broader concerns about overseas crude oil supplies could play a role in keeping prices closer to $100.
Reuters reported Tuesday afternoon that Libyan oil production would be cut another 80,000 barrels per day, bringing total output in the embattled nation to only 150,000 barrels per day. Lingering concerns about the crisis in Ukraine continued to weigh on futures prices, as well.
The price of Brent Light Sweet crude moved higher during early Tuesday trading and remained over $107 per barrel in mid-afternoon trading.