Gas Prices Rise And Fall Based On Regional Influences

2015-04-13-trendOhio Gas Prices Spike, Holding U.S. Average In Check

The national average price of gas barely moved during the past week, according to the latest weekly report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The E.I.A. report shows U.S. gas prices remained unchanged at $2.41 per gallon, but region by region, the numbers tell a different story. For instance, drivers in California are paying about 5¢ less for gas this week, but drivers in Ohio are paying 11¢ more. Midwestern gas prices are typically the most volatile and can often influence the national average, as was the case during the past week.

Meanwhile, prices were mixed across the country, with prices across New England dropping by about a penny. However, prices across the Central Atlantic and Lower Atlantic states rose slightly, putting the broader East Coast prices slightly higher. For drivers in the Rocky Mountains, prices went up about three cents per gallon.

Truckers Get A Break With Diesel Prices Down

Meanwhile, the price of diesel dropped in every region last week, a good sign for truckers. The average price for a gallon of diesel fuel dropped an even 3¢ during the past week to $2.75 per gallon. Prices were down between two and four cents per gallon in every region except the West Coast, where a one-penny per gallon increase in California prevented the regional average from moving significantly. The West Coast averages, sans the Golden State, were down two cents per gallon.

Crude Oil Prices Are Up, But So Is Crude Supply

Pipeline Crossroads Monument

Crude oil supplies in Cushing, Oklahoma are high, the result of crude production in the U.S. Photo: Ben Cochran via Wikipedia.org.

Meanwhile, crude oil prices have been climbing slowly but steadily for the past month, for both domestic and overseas crude. The price of West Texas Intermediate was set to open early Tuesday at just over $52 per barrel after climbing about a half-dollar in overnight trading. Brent Crude was poised to open at just over $58 per barrel. That could signal a potential rise in fuel prices in the short term, but the longer-term forecast is that prices will continue to drop through the year.

The E.I.A. reported last week the price of Brent crude is likely to fall as much as 40 percent this year, and U.S. crude oil stocks at Cushing, Oklahoma, are enough to supply the country for the next 30 days, keeping downward pressure on retail prices.

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Retail Gas Gets Cheaper As Spring Break Ends

EDITOR’S NOTE: This week’s gas price story is abbreviated because we are completing the redevelopment of TurnpikeInfo.com. The gas price stories will resume in their expanded news format on April 13, 2015. The weekly trend chart and U.S. government survey will continue to be update.

2015-04-06-trendThe cost of gas dropped nearly 4¢ per gallon, on average, across the United States last week, according to the latest weekly survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The E.I.A. report shows the average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded dropped from $2.45 to $2.41 per gallon on the week, an about face that could signal a return to steadily-declining fuel prices.

The highest average price for gas, on a regional basis, fell below $3.00 per gallon once more during the week, as West Coast drivers enjoyed watching nearly a nickel come off the price of their gas. The price of gas was lowest along the Gulf Coast, where the average is now $2.18.

Note: Regular gas price and oil industry news coverage resumes April 13, 2015.

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Florida Sunpass Clients Due Refunds

State Of Florida Looking For Sunpass Users With Inactive Accounts

FDOT-100THSunpass account holders who have not used their transponders to pay tolls during the past three years are due a refund of money in their account, according to a news release from the Florida Department of Transportation.

In a news release issued this morning, FDOTspokesman Chad Huff wrote, “About 19,000 Floridians have open accounts with positive balances that haven’t been accessed or updated in the past 36 months.

“Under Florida statutes, FDOT is required is required to remit funds from accounts that haven’t been accessed within three years to the Florida Bureau of Unclaimed Propert,” Mr. Huff further wrote.

Holders of these dormant accounts will be receiving letters from FDOT, but state officials acknowledge some users may not be easily reached. Some people “may have simply moved to a different area and never … closed their account,” Mr. Huff stated.

Those who can be reached and wish to close their old Sunpass account will get a refund of any balance that remains on the books. Anyone who wishes to update their account may also do so. Anyone who believes they may be due a refund may contact the FDOT on email to request assistance updating or closing their old Sunpass accounts. That email is TurnpikePIO@dot.state.fl.us.

Gas Prices Level Off

EDITOR’S NOTE: This week’s gas price story is abbreviated because we are completing the redevelopment of TurnpikeInfo.com. The gas price stories will resume in their expanded news format on April 13, 2015. The weekly trend chart and U.S. government survey will continue to be updated as usual.

Gas Prices Dip Slightly According To Weekly Survey

Gas price trend for week of March 30, 2015The price of gas across the United States dropped by an average of one penny per gallon last week, according to the weekly gas price survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The weekly E.I.A. report shows the bulk of Americans are paying anywhere from 2¢ to 5¢ less per gallon, but pricing increases across the Lower Atlantic states and the Rocky Mountain survey region kept the broader U.S. price average from dropping further. California drivers enjoyed a significant price drop, which helped bring the West Coast price average down about a nickel per gallon to an even $3.00. The lowest gas prices in the country are currently found in Texas and along the Gulf Coast, where the average regional price is just under $2.19 per gallon.

Note: Regular gas price and oil industry news coverage resumes April 13, 2015.

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Gas Prices Fall For Most, But Jump Across Midwest

Gas price trend for week of March 23, 2015Regional Price Volatility Drags U.S. Average Higher

The price of a gallon of gasoline went down for most drivers during the past week, but regional increases across the Midwest and Rocky Mountain states dragged the national average gas price higher during the past week. Even so, that increase was less than a penny per gallon, as the national average price performed a technical rise from $2.45 to $2.46. The week on week price changes are detailed in the regular weekly update from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Volatility spikes in prices across the Midwest resulted in prices jumping nearly 11¢ in that region, as gas stations from Chicago to Cleveland reflected overland shipping costs, which had been higher in recent weeks due to winter weather events. For drivers in Ohio, prices surged over 14¢ per gallon as the Buckeye State, again, bore the brunt of Midwest price changes.

Regional upward pricing volatility did not extend to the Rocky Mountain states, although prices did push higher during the past week by about 2¢. Curiously, however, prices in Denver, Colorado, declined by about that same amount during the past week, perhaps suppressing a broader regional price hike.

For Most, Gas Prices Are Cheaper This Week

For most Americans, regional gas prices went down between 3¢ and 7¢ per gallon, with steeper price declines in some states cities. Along the U.S. West Coast, which endured shocking price hikes during February, prices went down in some cities by as much as 12¢, notably Los Angeles. Those declines, often tied to California, extended as far north as Seattle, although prices in the Emerald City only declined about 8¢ per gallon.

Prices were also down significantly across the East Coast survey districts, particularly New England, which brought the broader East Coast index down by an average of 4¢, although prices in the Lower Atlantic states, which includes populous Florida, only declined about 3¢.

Year On Year, Gasoline Is Less Costly

Overall, however, year on year prices are still significantly lower than the early Spring driving period in 2014.  Average prices are down well over $1.00 per gallon, and by as much as $1.35 in some states. And while crude oil has been highly volatile in recent weeks, the broad consensus among energy sector financial analysts, is that periodic price disruptions due to regional conflicts are not likely to pressure crude oil prices to move higher. Instead, global supply remains very high, due in large part to U.S. crude oil production, which continues to put downward pressure on domestic and overseas contracts.

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Gas Prices Slip Downward After Weeks Of Increases

Domestic And Overseas Crude Oil Destabilized

2015-03-16-trendThe price of gas did an about-face in most regions of the country during the past week, according to the latest weekly gas price survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The E.I.A. report shows the average U.S. cost for a gallon of regular unleaded fell to $3.45 per gallon. While the national average price fell 3.4¢, the declines in some regions were barely felt, while other survey districts enjoyed larger price drops.

Regional Gas Price Shifts Vary Widely

Midwestern gas prices, usually quite volatile, had among the larger price declines during the past week, with prices slipped won just over a nickel per gallon. Those price drops were outpaced only by the West Coast region, which was hit hard just two weeks ago by substantial double-digit price increases. West Coast gasoline declined nearly 7¢ per gallon last week, but the bigger declines were confined to California and its large metropolitan areas. Remove the Golden State from the averages, and West Coast gas only went down about 4¢ per gallon.

Meanwhile, the drivers across the Rockies are paying much more for gas this week than last, according to the E.I.A., which reports the price of unleaded went up by about 6¢ per gallon in the Rocky Mountain survey region, the only region to experience a price increase. Prices across that area settled at about $2.29 per gallon, but that is well below the national average.

Black diesel pump nozzleGas Price Trends Extend To Trucking Industry

The Rocky Mountain region price increases affected truckers and haulers, too. The cost of diesel increased by about a penny per gallon across the survey district last week, while the broader national average price of diesel was down nearly 3¢ last week. For truckers driving across New England, the price of diesel fell just over 6¢, giving that region the biggest price decline of the week. For those regions experiencing an actual drop in diesel prices, the Lower Atlantic states had the lowest overall price decline, at just over a penny per gallon.

Crude Oil Prices Once Again In Focus

The about-face in gas prices came as crude oil began destabilizing once more at the end of last week. Prices had been lurking in a range from the high $40 per barrel to low $50 per barrel range for domestic crude, West Texas Intermediate. Brent crude, the overseas benchmark, had been trading in the high $50 per barrel to low $60 per barrel range. As of Tuesday morning, however, both futures indices had fallen substantially, with WTI now trading in the low $40 per barrel range and Brent in the low $50 per barrel range.

Broader Issues Than Supply And Demand At Play

The decline in prices can be traced to a pair of primary factors. The first is the glut of domestic crude being produced by the United States, which has been a significant factor in the pricing equation for months. The other issue is the strength of the U.S. dollar, which has been gaining ground in recent weeks due to the anticipated end of bond buying by the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank. Meanwhile, the Eurozone economies are about to experience their own brand of quantitative easing, which has resulted in a weaker Euro. Combined, the actions of the Fed and the European Central Bank have many investors fleeing to U.S. dollars, which makes U.S. oil more expensive overseas.

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Gas Prices Skirt Upward, Decline In Midwest

National Average Moves Higher By Two Cents

Gas price trend for week of March 9, 2015The national average price of a gallon of gas went up another two cents during the past week, as detailed in the latest pricing survey released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The E.I.A. report shows the average gas price in the U.S. is now $2.49 per gallon, which is 45¢ higher than just five weeks ago. However, the price is still down well over $1.00 from this period a year ago.

The price of gas surged across the West Coast last week, and while price increases were not as substantial this week, they dragged the national averages higher. The Rocky Mountain states also experienced a surge in pricing, as the region gave up its tenuous slot as the cheapest region for gas.

Gas prices in Round Rock, Texas, near Austin. prices have jumped nearly 30¢ in the past month.

Gas prices in Round Rock, Texas, near Austin, adjacent to the TX-45 toll road. Prices there have jumped nearly 30¢ in the past month. Photo: Eric Scallion.

The Gulf Coast states, typically the place to find the least-expensive gas, reclaimed their slot as the cheapest place in the nation to buy fuel. Prices across the West Coast went up 5¢ per gallon, but when California is removed from the equation, the price increases were closer to 11¢ per gallon. That trend also held in the Rocky Mountains, where prices jumped 11¢ week on week.

In the Midwestern states, where prices are typically volatile, the price of gas actually went down, the only region to show a pricing retreat in the past week. The cost of fuel dipped by 4¢ to settle at $2.34 per gallon, which is also well below the national average.

Diesel Fuel Costs Rise, But Slowly Compared To Unleaded

The price of diesel fuel continues to creep upward, and it is only creeping, indeed. The price of a gallon of diesel, nationwide, is now averaging about $2.94, up about one penny on the week. Diesel prices have been rising slowly, compared with their unleaded fuel counterparts, but that also follows a much slower decline in prices, too. Retail diesel costs did not decline as quickly as unleaded gasoline during the last six months of 2014.

Crude Oil, Summer Gas And Strong Dollar Influencing Prices

The price of crude oil continues to influence retail gas prices, but the wholesale gasoline prices are also playing a substantial role. Despite a glut of oil domestically and around the world, U.S. prices are rising, in part, because of a switch to summer fuel blends, which are more expensive to produce. Gas prices typically increase in the first few months of the year, ahead of the summer driving season.

The stronger U.S. dollar is also creating problems, because it makes U.S. oil more expensive on the open markets, driving global prices higher, and that can reverberate on the U.S. retail gasoline market. The timing of that influence, however, remains to be seen.

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Gas Prices Surge Amid Shifting Output And Refinery Changes

Gas price trend for week of March 2, 2015Crude Oil Prices Stabilizing As Summer Blends Go Into Production

Consumer gas prices shot higher during the past week, up nearly 50¢ per gallon in some states, as the overall U.S. gas price settled at $2.47. That nationwide average is up by about 14¢ per gallon, lead by a major shift in prices along the West Coast, where prices went up an average of 37¢ per gallon. The stunning price increases are a major shift for U.S. drivers who, for six months from July 2014 through January 2015, experienced a precipitous decline in prices. The weekly averages are detailed in the regular fuel price survey by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Regional Gas Prices Stun Area Drivers

Region by region, prices were up anywhere from 8¢ per gallon, as in the Rocky Mountain states, to upwards of 37¢ per gallon, a price increase shock experienced by drivers on the U.S. West Coast. State by state, the numbers were equally hard-hitting. In California, drivers are paying 45¢ more for per gallon this week than last, and drivers in Washington state are paying 27¢ per gallon more. In Florida, where spring breakers are about to inundate the Sunshine State, prices went up 11¢ per gallon.

Crude Oil Stabilizes But Not Quite Into Recovery Mode

Meanwhile, the price of crude oil, which had been the arbiter of consumer gas prices during the past several months, is reclaiming some strength and has been trading in a tighter range during the past few weeks. The overall spate of declines, experience since last summer, appears to have come to an end. West Texas Intermediate, the domestic crude benchmark, has stabilized at around $50 per barrel, while the overseas index, Brent, has been trading above $60 per barrel.

Summer Driving Affecting Winter Drivers

Meanwhile, production of refined fuels in the United States has been shifting to summer blends of gasoline, and that means the overall retail price of gas will continue to climb, even if no other pricing pressures get in the way. The problem is there are many pressures contributing to  the higher gas price, including the shuttering of under-producing or older refineries and a strong U.S. dollar, which makes U.S. oil exports more expensive on open markets.

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Gas Prices Rise, But Pace Of Increase Slowing

Third Consecutive Week Of Price Hikes May Only Be Beginning

Gas price trend for week of February 23, 2015The price of gas increased another six cents on the week, according to the latest report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The weekly survey of districts shows the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded is now $2.33, up 19¢ in the past three weeks. The weekly price increases were led by shocking hikes across California and the broader West Coast Region, where prices jumped 14¢ and 9¢, respectively. Price increases across the rest of the nation were either at or below the national average increase of 6¢ per gallon.

Diesel Increasing In Price The Same Way It Declined: Slowly

For truckers, the price of diesel also increased, but not as intensely. The nationwide average cost for a gallon of diesel is now $2.90, up about 4¢ on the week. The price of diesel came down sooner than its regular gasoline counterpart in 2014, but it did so at a slower rate than gas. As unleaded fuels have increased in price, the diesel price increases have also been moving at a slower pace, which means somewhat less volatility, at least at the retail level.

Crude Volatility And Summer Blends Influencing Gas Prices

The price changes are reflective of continued uncertainty in the crude oil futures markets, which have found a broad trading range during February. A supply glut is forecast to persist through at least the second, and most likely the third quarter, according to industry analysts, which was a significant part of the precipitous declines seen since July. Both Citigroup’s Edward Morse and Vitol Group’s Ian Taylor opined two weeks ago that crude oil prices were still likely to trend lower until later this year. They disagreed on the timing of a future upward move in crude, but the consensus was that the oversupply causing the downward price pressure would continue until well into the summer.

Tri-State Tollway view from the Hinsdale Oasis

This summer view of the Tri-State Tollway, near Chicago, may seem like a distant memory now, but refinery operators are already switching to output summer gasoline blends, contributing to higher prices.

The other factor is the summer fuel blends, themselves, which reflects increased refining costs for producers. That element is likely the greatest issue for consumer prices at the moment, as this is the time refineries are switching over to summer blends for the coming driving seasons.

The summer fuel blend issue aside, supply is expected to remain quite plentiful, which could put an upward limit on the current price increases. Vincent Piazza of Bloomberg Business reported February 18 shale production continues to increase, even in the current environment. The reason is the efficiency of drilling sites versus their older counterparts, many of which have been closed down in the past year.

Year On Year Prices Still Much Lower

For consumers, the price of gas is still far cheaper today than it was at this time last year. On average, most drivers are paying about $1.11 less for a gallon of gas than at this time in 2014. For truckers, the nationwide average price is down by about the same amount, at $1.12.

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Gas Prices Surge Second Consecutive Week

After Months Of Decline, Prices Rebound Amid More Stable Crude Prices

Gas price trend for week of February 16, 2015The price of gas took another leap higher during the past week, according to the latest report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The weekly E.I.A. report shows the cost of gas jumped eight  cents last week, and that followed a week in which prices jumped 12 cents per gallon. In all, however, the price of gas is still significantly lower that it was at this time last year. As it stands, the national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.27, which is 23¢ higher than where gas settled at the end of January.

West Coast drivers suffered the biggest price increase, by region, during the week. The E.I.A. survey shows consumer fuel costs jumped 15¢ per gallon, by far the highest increase nationwide. The runner up, the Gulf Coast states, had a price increase of nine cents per gallon.

Prices along the Gulf Coast have been rising faster than other regions. Photo: Eric Scallion.

Prices along the Gulf Coast have been rising faster than other regions. Photo: Eric Scallion.

The numbers by state are equally dramatic. In California, which lead the West Coast price surge, the coast of a gallon of gas soared over 17¢. In Florida, where early spring break travelers will soon be arriving for vacation, the cost of filling up rose 12¢ per gallon.

Truckers Hit With Less Costly Price Increase

Diesel prices are also rising, but not as severely. The average cost of a gallon of diesel, nationwide, settled at $2.87 this week, which is up three cents over last week. However, like regular unleaded, diesel prices went up considerably more along the West Coast, particularly California, where prices were up eight cents per gallon.

Crude Oil Prices More Stable, At Least For The Moment

The current price rebound in gas and diesel can be attributed, at least in part, to the leveling of crude oil prices, which had been in a free-fall for several months. However, both West Texas Intermediate and Brent Crude have stabilized. WTI, a domestic futures benchmark, has been trading in a range between $48 and $54 per barrel for the past two weeks. Brent has been trading in a wider range, but traders have been bidding Brent higher, unlike WTI. What is more, Brent closed above $60 per barrel for two consecutive sessions this week before sliding just under that key threshold in Wednesday trading.

Year On Year Gas Prices Still Considerably Lower

Meanwhile, as much as gas prices have done an about face in recent weeks, the year-on-year numbers are still staggering in their consumer favoritism. The average driver is currently paying about $1.10 less for a gallon of gas than last year at this time, and some regions are enjoying prices that are about $1.25 less than a year ago, including New England and the Rocky Mountain region.

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