Monthly Archives: November 2014

Gas Prices Continue Free Fall Going Into Thanksgiving

Prices Plunge Another Seven Cents In One Week

Gas price trend for week of November 24, 2014Even as freak snowstorms buffet many parts of the nation, the supply of gas, coupled with the multi-year low prices of crude oil futures, have continued to push the retail price of gas to fresh lows for 2014. The nation’s average price of gas fell over 7¢ per gallon during the past week to settle at $2.82, according to the latest weekly price survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In the Gulf Coast region, some drivers are enjoying what might be called “super low” gas prices, because premium gas is below $3.00, at some stations, a new threshold not commonly seen until the current spate of price declines. Along the broader Gulf Region, the average price of regular unleaded is the lowest in the nation at $2.59.

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Gas prices in the Gulf region, like at this station near Austin, Texas, have fallen low enough that even premium prices are below the $3.00 threshold. The average Gulf price for regular unleaded is now $2.59 per gallon, the lowest in the country. Photo: Eric Scallion.

The week-on-week declines in fuel prices extended to diesel, which fell over 3¢ per gallon in most places. Prices in the Midwest and along the West Coast, a substantial survey region, fell by more than 4¢ per gallon. The U.S. average diesel price is now $3.62, with the Lower Atlantic states enjoying the lowest cost at an average $2.44 for the region. Truckers moving across the Rocky Mountain states and the broader West Coast region will pay the highest per-gallon prices for diesel at $3.74 and $3.72 per gallon, respectively.

2014 Crude Trends Differ From 2013

The price of fuel has been going down steadily since the end of June, when the summer peak in prices brought regular unleaded gas to $3.70 across the nation. Crude prices began to decline near the end of June, both on the domestic index, West Texas Intermediate, and the overseas benchmark, Brent Light Sweet Crude.

Interestingly, the price of diesel has been going down steadily since March 10, save for a two-week bump in prices at the end of April and another two-week upward lurch at the end of June. In each case, the price of unleaded gas also spiked, reaching spring time and summer peaks, respectively. For 2013, the prices of diesel and regular unleaded gas followed each other in a close trend line, which seems to have broken just ahead of spring in 2014.

Year On Year, Gas Is Significantly Cheaper

Regardless of the crude oil trends, both diesel and regular gas are significantly cheaper than at this time last year. On average, regular unleaded gas is about 47¢ less than at this time last year, when gas prices were reaching their seasonal low. Prices across the Lower Atlantic states are nearly 60¢ per gallon less than last year.

The year-on-year spread is not as pronounced for diesel, which is about 22¢ per gallon cheaper this year than at this time in 2013. However, prices in some regions, like the Rocky Mountain and Midwestern states, are only 10¢ and 8¢ per gallon cheaper. However, prices across those regions are known to fluctuate wildly. Just three weeks ago, the YoY comparison put prices in the Rocky Mountain states at 14¢ per gallon cheaper than last year. For the Midwest, prices were actually higher year on year.

Gas Prices Likely To Remain Low For Near Term

That kind of volatility makes short-term price forecasting for those regions difficult. And forecasting crude oil prices can be equally troublesome, even in the face of ever-rising U.S. production levels. Some analysts have believe the price of crude will remain in a tight range in the mid to upper $70s of dollars per barrel. However, IG’s Chris Weston told Bloomberg News Monday he believes the price of crude has likely bottomed out or may be close, largely due to political and industrial movements in Libya and a potential move by Iran and Saudi Arabia to cut production in the coming weeks.

Year On Year Gas Savings Could Near Or Exceed $80-million

In the meantime, the price of gas remains poised to provide holiday drivers with bonus this Thanksgiving. The American Automobile Association is predicting about 41.3-million U.S. drivers will journey 50 miles or more from home this week. Applying the average year-on-year U.S. gas price savings, that means the American drivers will save, in the aggregate, about $78-million in fuel costs.

That figure is predicated on the following assumptions: A car getting an average 25 miles per gallon, with at least a 100-mile round trip that would consume four gallons. Extending the formula to include AAA’s holiday traffic projection, that translates to about a combined 185-million gallons of gas among 41.3-million drivers, multiplied by the current U.S. price average of $2.82 per gallon, versus the $3.29 price point at Thanksgiving last year.

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Gas Prices Keep Falling As Keystone XL Pipeline Debate Rages

Glut Of Oil Pushes Crude Prices Lower

Gas price trend for week of November 17, 2014The cost of a gallon of gasoline fell another nickel across the U.S. last week, this according to the latest gas price survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The weekly E.I.A. survey shows the average U.S. cost for a gallon of regular unleaded is now only $2.89, with prices far lower in some regions. For the Gulf Coast, the cheap spot of the nation, a gallon of gas will only set you back $2.67, on average.

Prices continued to fall between three and six cents per gallon across every survey region in the past seven days. Even in California, where prices remained above $4.00 per gallon most of the summer, prices fell nearly 7¢ in the past week to settle at $3.15, nearly $1.00 less than just a few months ago. For many drivers, the retail price declines have been exceptionally beneficial on the wallet, the construction of the last leg of the Keystone XL pipeline has the potential to add to that benefit.

A tale of two stations? Not really. These pictures, from Google (left) and from Owen Miller (right) show how gas prices have swung wildly in the U.S. in the past two years. No price decline in recent years has been as dramatic as the one experienced since the end of June. Crude oil is down 30% and unleaded is down more than 80¢.

A tale of two stations? These pictures of a Prime Energy station in Middleborough, Massachusetts, from Google (left) and from Turnpikeinfo.com user Owen Miller (right) show how gas prices have swung wildly in the U.S. in the past two years. No price decline in recent years has been as dramatic as the one experienced since the end of June. Crude oil is down 30% and unleaded is down more than 80¢.

Crude oil prices have continued to plummet in the wake of slowing global demand and an increase in production from the United States. Furthermore, nations belonging to the OPEC cartel have been unable to influence production that would slow the decline in foreign crude prices, and as a result, both domestic and overseas crude remain at multi-year lows. West Texas Intermediate, the domestic benchmark, is at its lowest point since the start of 2009.

Analysts Say Crude Prices Will Remain Low

Meanwhile, new geopolitical risks that might otherwise push up crude prices are likely to only bump futures contracts from time to time, according to a pair of analysts who spoke to Bloomberg last week. Dan Dicker, the senior contributor to Oilprice.com, said he believes the current market will trap crude prices in a narrow range. Scott Bauer, from Trading Advantage, said he believes traders will likely sell contracts that get up to $81 per barrel and reacquire contracts when they fall to $76. As of Tuesday morning, WTI is trading under $75, while Brent Light Sweet Crude is hovering just above $78 per barrel.

Diesel Prices Falling, But Not As Quickly

The good news for the American driver also translates to good news for the American hauler. Truckers have continued to enjoy diesel price declines through the summer and into the fall. The average price of a gallon of diesel fell last week to $3.66. Although there was a slight price bump in the West Coast region, all other regions enjoyed a week-over-week price decline.

The Midwestern states, where diesel prices soared by double digits last week, watched a leveling of prices. The other region hit by last week’s power price surge was the Rocky Mountain states, where prices fell three cents this week. Overall, however, diesel prices remain anywhere from 70 to 80 cents per gallon higher than unleaded gas.

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Gas Prices Nosedive Amid Sluggish Global Demand

Prices Continue Falling, With A Glitch For Truckers

Gas price trend for week of November 10, 2014The price of a gallon of gas continued to fall through the floor during the past week, according to the latest weekly gas price survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The weekly E.I.A. report shows the cost of a gallon of regular unleaded will now set you back a mere $2.94, down just over a nickel from last week, and down 77¢ since gas prices hit their peak in the last days of April and again in late June.

Crude Oil Prices Fall As Production Increases And Demand Withers

The news comes as crude oil prices continue to tank. On the international markets, Brent Light Sweet Crude was trading down again Wednesday, flirting with crossing under the $81 per barrel mark. For the domestic benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, the price is off significantly in intraday trading and was closing in on the $77 mark.

The surplus of domestic shale and sluggish demand, both overseas and in the United States, has put crude oil and, consequently, retail gas prices into a downward spiral. The E.I.A. has cut its domestic crude pricing forecast for 2015. The E.I.A. projection for the coming year is that WTI will average about $77.75 per barrel, posed to the original forecast of $94.58. The E.I.A. estimate for Brent has been cut to $83.42 from $101.67.

The E.I.A. administrator, Adam Sieminski, wrote in an email statement that the current growth in the global oil supply, even in the face of weaker consumer demand, will keep crude prices suppressed. Forecasts for U.S. domestic production project an increase in domestic crude output from 8.5-million barrels per day to over 9.4-million next year, the highest domestic crude production since 1970.

Truckers Hit With Surprise Price Hikes

Tractor trailers at a Florida's Turnpike service place.

Truckers traveling across the Midwest and Rockies will be paying far more for fuel this week than their counterparts in other regions. Prices spiked by 8¢ across the Rockies and a stunning 16¢ per gallon across the Midwest.

But the current news is unlikely to assuage concerns for truckers, many of whom have been hit with a surprise and costly price increase during the past week. The E.I.A. survey shows price spikes across the Rockies and in the Midwest contributed to a solid increase in the cost of diesel during the past week. Overall, the U.S. average diesel price is up by a nickel, exactly the opposite of the retail gasoline market.

While many regions across the eastern seaboard enjoyed price declines, a stunning 16¢ per gallon increase in prices across the Midwest, coupled with an 8¢ per gallon price hike in the Rockies, all but wiped out positive price points from other survey regions. For truckers making cross-country trips, the weekly price spike is likely to be quite costly.

Perhaps the only good news in the mix, for drivers of diesel-powered engines, is that the Midwest and Rockies generally have volatile price swings, often due to weather. That volatility is likely to drive prices back down over the next week, as crude oil stocks and production remain high.

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Gas Prices Officially Fall Below Three Bucks

Prices Slip As Crude Falls Below $80 Per Barrel

Gas price trend for week of November 3, 2014

Gas prices officially fell below the crucial $3.00 level in the latest EIA price survey. However, prices in many regions have been below that threshold for a few weeks. In some urban areas, like at the South Florida gas station pictured below, that price point is just being seen.

The U.S. average price for a gallon of gas is now officially below the $3.00 per gallon threshold, according to the latest pricing survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The E.I.A. reports shows over half of all survey regions now average under that same benchmark.

The highest price for gas is still being paid on the West Coast of the U.S.; however, even in that survey district, the price of a gallon of regular unleaded is down to $3.24. Remove expensive California from the formula, and the West Coast average is, itself, only $3.13, in line with other regions where the price of gas remains above the $3.00 mark, including New England and the Rocky Mountain states.

The plunge in retail gas prices tied to the steep decline in recent weeks of the price of crude oil. Both domestic crude, West Texas Intermedia, and the overseas benchmark, Brent Light Sweet Crude, are down significantly from their early-summer highs. WTI is even trading below $80 per barrel, the first time it has been that low in 30 months, according to CNBC.

Gas prices in Oakland Park, Florida on November 2, 2014In the meantime, some hedge fund managers are calling for short-term prices to remain low and move lower. Andy Lipow of Lipow Oil Associates told CNBC earlier today he expects the average gas price in the U.S. to be $2.80 by the Thanksgiving holiday. That would certainly be great news for drivers hitting the road during that critical travel weekend. If that prediction holds true, that price point would also be 91¢ less than the peak price earlier this year. The U.S. average topped off at 3.71 at the end of April.

Diesel Prices Fall, But Not As Fast As Unleaded

Truckers and other drivers of diesel-powered vehicles are experiencing a break at the pump, too; however, the price declines for diesel have not been as steep as those for their gasoline-powered counterparts. Diesel fell only about a penny per gallon during the past week, much smaller than the six-cent decline for regular unleaded gas.

Even so, the price of gas for all vehicles, whether gasoline or diesel, is down significantly from a year ago. For regular gas, the cost of a gallon of fuel is now 27¢ less than last year; diesel is down over 23¢ from this period in 2013.

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Gas Prices Poised To Slide Below $3.00

Prices Continue Their Autumn Fall

Gas price trends for week of October 27, 2014The nationwide average price for a gallon of regular unleaded fell to $3.06 during the past week, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That figure is down six cents from the previous week. As with all weekly surveys, this week’s E.I.A. report shows some regions enjoyed a larger decline, particularly the West Coast, where prices fell 10¢ per gallon to settle at a regional average of $3.32. The cheapest regional prices were found across the Gulf Coast region, once again, where the average retail cost for gas is now only $2.83 per gallon.

Part of the reason for the decline in prices is the high output of U.S. shale production and a slowing global demand. The price of crude oil futures, particularly West Texas Intermediate, has fallen dramatically since its summer highs. Price have been trading in a narrow range for days, flirting with the potential of falling below the $80 per barrel threshold.

Year Over Year, Gas Is Significantly Cheaper

That has been good news for drivers. The cost of gas has fallen so much in the past several weeks, the cost of fuel is now anywhere from 17¢ to 30¢ per gallon cheaper than at this time last year, depending on the survey region. That good news extends to truckers, too, who are also paying substantially less this year for diesel fuel.

Overall, the price of diesel has not fallen as dramatically as gas prices in recent weeks; however, the year-over-year price difference of diesel fuels is identical to the price of gasoline. For both types of fuel, the U.S. average price is 24¢ cheaper than 2013’s rate.

There are indications retail prices could push even lower, especially if crude oil prices continue their free-fall. In fact, overseas crude oil prices, which have also fallen substantially, may not have the power to reverse course with the same gusto as in previous years. The reason is a decline in the pricing power member nations of OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The reason comes back to U.S. shale production, according to Jeff Currie of Goldman Sachs. Mr. Currie made his comments on CNBC, telling reporters that the United States has more power to influence price swings.

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