Gas Prices Do High-Octane About Face

Government Report Shows Retail Prices Jump As Crude Rebounds

Gas price trend for week of February 9, 2015In a stunning reversal of course, gas prices lurched upward more than 12¢ on the week as crude oil prices finally leveled off and began to rebound from a six-month period of decline. That means a reversal of fortune, of sorts, for American drivers, as consumer prices are matching the crude oil pricing trend. The weekly gas price survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows the national average price of a gallon of unleaded gas is now $2.19, up from $2.07 last week and a low of $2.04 just two weeks ago.

Regional Prices Spike In West and Midwest

Prices across the West Coast soared on a spike in California gas prices. Retail gasoline in the Golden State hit an average of $2.63 this week, up from $2.44 last week. That spike in costs helped drive the overall West Coast average 7¢ higher to $2.47 per gallon. The Rocky Mountain States bumped the Gulf Coast survey region to become the cheapest place to buy fuel. Average unleaded price across the Rocky Mountain states settled at $1.95 last week. Drivers in Gulf Coast states are paying an average of $1.98.

Service plaza on Indiana Toll Road

Gas prices across the Midwest, like at this station on the Indiana Toll Road, soared as much as 20¢ per gallon on the week.

Midwest gas prices tracked significantly higher for the second consecutive week. A jump in prices last week pushed the broader U.S. average higher; in retrospect, that may become viewed as the portent of things to come nationwide. The Midwest price average is now $2.17 per gallon, up from $1.94 only two weeks ago. As with last week, Ohio led the charge toward higher pricing with a 20¢ per gallon increase in prices, and that beats last week’s 14¢ increase. Minnesota drivers were lashed with a 16¢ per gallon price hike.

Crude Oil Prices Change Direction After Six Months

While futures prices scarcely moved in Monday trading, both domestic and overseas futures indices have been moving higher since January 29, at time when both West Texas Intermediate and Brent Crude were trading below $50 per barrel. WTI closed at $52.43 Monday afternoon, while Brent was at $57.98 per barrel.

The rebound in crude prices is not being called a recovery, however. In fact, a report from Citigroup on Monday, coupled with a warning from the world’s largest independent oil trader, suggests the price of crude could be set to fall into the $30 to $35 per barrel range. Executives of both Citi and The Vitol Group warned Monday that continued oversupply in the United States would drive prices significantly lower, despite slowing spending overseas.

Citigroup’s Edward Morse, head of the company’s global commodities research, wrote that U.S. production levels will likely remain high through the third quarter, putting downward pressure on crude oil prices, particularly WTI, the U.S. domestic benchmark. The Vitol Group’s Chief Executive, Ian Taylor, concurred, in an independent opinion. Taylor said Monday he believes it possible another downward move in crude oil is coming, and he said U.S. production was the driving force behind that potential. Taylor said the market looks long for the first half of the year, but he predicted the oil market will “move into balance” in the second half of 2015.

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Spike In Midwest Gas Prices Brings National Average Up

Price Hikes In Ohio Rival Winter’s Brutality

Gas price trends for week of February 2, 2015A 14¢ surge in the price of gasoline in Ohio, coupled with significant gas price increases across the Midwest, contributed to a substantial about face in average prices for the region. The spike in prices was so significant, it pushed the national average gas price upward for the first time since the September 1, 2014 pricing survey. The latest weekly survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded is now $2.07, nationwide, essentially reversing last week’s price gain. But the numbers do not tell the entire story.

Removing the Midwestern region from the pricing formula, U.S. average gas prices would have gone down over 6¢ to settle at an average of $1.98. Prices in nearly all other survey districts were down, and while the pricing declines have slowed in recent weeks as crude oil prices stabilize and even rally, most drivers are not feeling the seasonal pinch on their wallet like they did last year at this time.

Diesel Fuel Prices Continue Falling

Diesel fuel pumpMeanwhile, diesel fuel continued to fall at a fair pace, as the U.S. average price for a gallon of diesel dipped to $2.83, down about four cents on the week. The prices in the New England states increased by a penny, but prices in all other regions were down. The West Coast, in particular, enjoyed a price drop of nearly 6¢ per gallon, while prices across the Lower Atlantic were down over 4¢.

The gas pricing trend, sans the anomalous Midwestern averages, has continued to favor the consumer, despite the fact crude oil prices were no longer declining at their formerly precipitous rate. In fact, West Texas Intermediate has rallied, along with U.S. domestic crude and Brent, over the past three trading sessions. Tuesday’s rally was so significant, it brought U.S. domestic crude back over the $50 per barrel mark. WTI crossed that threshold on Monday.

Crude Oil Could Turn Lower, Despite Recent Rallies, Says Expert

However, at least one market watcher tells CNBC he forecasts additional lows for crude oil. Stephen Schork of The Schork Report told the financial news network that he believes the current rally is just a “dead cat bounce,” and that crude oil still has significant declines ahead of it.

He pointed out that global daily demand has fallen by 1.6-million barrels of oil each day, and without demand, prices can not recover. “The bottom line here is, we do not have enough demand, and the demand is going to be weak for the next two to three months, and we have too much supply,” he said.

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Gas Prices Continue To Fall, But Declines Are Slowing

Prices Rise In Midwest And Gulf Coast

Gas price trend for week of January 26, 2015The price of gasoline continued to fall during the past week, according to the latest survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The weekly E.I.A. fuel price survey shows the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded is now $2.04, down about three cents from last week. However, the more weighty price declines that have become weekly faire at retail gas stations is slowing. In fact, prices increased in two survey regions, the Midwest and the Gulf Coast.

For drivers across the nation’s midsection, fuel costs nudged upward about two cents per gallon, while prices were up about a penny per gallon along the Gulf Coast. That price increase offset large declines seen along the West Coast, where prices fell another seven cents per gallon during the past week. However, when you factor California into the West Coast, prices only went down about a nickel per gallon. Prices were down about five to six cents across New England and the Mid Atlantic States, and there were much larger declines seen along the Lower Atlantic States, where the average price for gas is now $2.17.

Diesel Continues To Decline, But At Slower Pace

Freeway SnowThe cost of diesel fell at a more robust pace, compared to its unleaded counterpart, although price declines for diesel have also begun to slow considerably. Prices dropped about seven cents over the past week, slipping to a $2.87 national average. The lowest costs were found across the Gulf Coast and Midwest, where prices were averaging $2.79 and $2.80, respectively. The cost of diesel in much of the New England and Central Atlantic regions remains above $3.00 per gallon, as do prices in California. The broader West Coast region is enjoying prices down at $2.76 per gallon.

Crude Oil Remains Depressed

The price of crude oil continues to remain depressed, both on foreign and domestic exchanges. West Texas Intermediate was trading down on the New York Mercantile Exchange again Tuesday morning, this after attempting to level off during the past week. Prices were down over two percent in early trading. WTI is the domestic crude benchmark.

Meanwhile, Brent Crude was trading down slightly in trading on the Intercontinental Europe Exchange, where futures contracts continue trading below $50.

The decline in both Brent and WTI has resulted from the glut of oil, both due to high production by Middle Eastern nations, particularly Saudi Arabia, and by the tar sands and shale boom in the United States and Canada. The decline in demand overseas, due to a slowing economy, has also contributed to the precipitous decline of crude oil prices.

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Gas Prices Keep Falling At Rate Of Penny Per Day

National Average Gas Price On Verge Of Going Below $2.00

Gas price trend for week of January 19, 2015The cost of a gallon of gasoline kept declining at the rate of a penny per day, on average, during the past week, according to the latest weekly survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The nation’s gas now averages just $2.07 for each gallon of regular unleaded, although prices in many areas are well below $2.00.

The cheapest prices are found along the Gulf Coast, where the average cost of gas is only $1.84, followed fairly closely by the Rocky Mountain survey region, where prices are $1.91 per gallon. The Midwest is averaging $1.92 per gallon. While the remainder of the survey regions have prices above the $2.00 threshold, even the most costly gas, found on the West Coast, is now only $2.38 per gallon.

Gas prices have continued to decline even as crude oil prices have finally leveled off, somewhat. The retail cost of fuels had been following the precipitous decline of crude since the middle of summer, when gas prices were in the high $3.00 ranges, and well over $4.00 in some parts of the country. Such prices seem almost nightmarish in the wake of the today’s cheap prices.

Diesel Slips Below $3.00 Per Gallon

Diesel fuel pumpMeanwhile, the price of diesel has slipped under $3.00. The national average for diesel is now just $2.93 per gallon, with some survey regions enjoying prices as low as $2.83, as in some parts of the West Coast, though not in California. The Gulf Coast region has the lowest overall price for diesel, where the prices are averaging about $2.84 per gallon.

Overall, the year-on-year price changes are substantial. For truckers, the cost of a gallon of diesel is about 94¢ less than this time last year. For commuters, the cost of a gallon of regular gas is now $1.23 less than at the start of 2014; however, the price decline since the middle of the summer is even greater.

During the past year, the nation’s average gas price, according to the E.I.A., topped off at $3.71, at the end of April, 2014, and again at $3.70, at the end of June. Those levels are $1.64 and $1.63 higher than the current price average of $2.07. Whether prices will continue falling, however, remains to be seen. The reason is that crude oil prices appear to have halted what had been a calamitous fall since the middle of summer.

Crude Prices Relatively Stable After Disastrous End To ’14

West Texas Intermediate, the domestic crude benchmark, has been hovering between $46 and $50 per barrel since about January 6; Brent, the overseas index, has also been more stable since the 6th of January, trading in a range between $48 and $52 per barrel. However, both indices are still trending slightly lower, albeit at a much slower pace than the latter half of 2014.

The likelihood of crude oil rebounding enough to halt the gas price decline remains uncertain, but at least one OPEC minister told an economic summit meeting in Davos, Switzerland he expected prices to normalize soon. Without providing a timeline, OPEC’s secretary-general, Abdullah al-Badri, said he believed crude prices would begin rising as investment firms scaled back their exposure in future production.

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Gas Prices Keep Falling, Though Not Quite As Fast

Cost To Drive Getting Cheaper By The Day

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an abbreviated report, as we were attending a domain development conference at the normal time of publication.

Gas price trends for week of January 12, 2015The cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline continued to decline over the past week, according to the weekly gas price survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The E.I.A. chart shows the decline in prices has slowed somewhat; however, even at its current pace, the cost of gas is coming down at the rate of one penny per day. At this pace, the so-called official price of gas, the E.I.A.’s national average, will slip below $2.00 per gallon well before the end of January.

The Gulf Coast states reclaimed their regional dominance as the low-price leader, where gasoline is now just $1.91, on average. However, the Rocky Mountain region and the Central Atlantic states are leading the way in overall price movement, with week-on-week declines of 13¢ and 12¢, respectively.

For truckers, diesel prices continued their downward pace during the past week, declining another 8¢, on average, from the previous week. The average cost of a gallon of diesel is now just $3.05. As with regular gasoline, prices along the Gulf Coast are the lowest, with the average being only $2.96. The costliest diesel fuel is found along the Central Atlantic coast, with prices generally averaging about $3.24 per gallon.

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Gas Prices Fall Further As Oil Futures Collapse

Gas Officially Below $2.00 in Midwest and Gulf Coast

Gas price trend for week of January 5, 2015The price of a gallon of gas is cheaper than at any time in the past six years, with the official U.S. gas price now down to a mere $2.21 per gallon, off almost nine cents from last week’s price, and down $1.50 since the end of June 2014. The current pricing is detailed in the weekly gas price survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The regional average gas prices in the Midwest and Gulf Coast states are now officially below $2.00 per gallon, with the Midwest enjoying gas averaging about $1.97 and the Gulf Coast drivers enjoying gasoline at $1.99.

The price of gas continues to follow the track of crude oil, which has collapsed under the weight of strong supply and weak overseas demand. West Texas Intermediate crude, WTI, fell below $50 on Monday, triggering a massive stock market selloff. WTI was trading just over $48 per barrel in early Tuesday trading, and the overseas crude, Brent, was trading just above $51. By comparison, both futures indices were trading well above $100 per barrel over the summer, with Brent pushing past the $110 boundary at one point.

Gas prices below $2.00 in the U.S.

Gas prices are below $2.00 in many states. Photos credits (from left): Shirlice Irick, Ben Irick, Eric Scallion.

However, domestic oil production in the U.S., combined with high output from OPEC member states, has resulted in a glut of oil at a time when the broader global economy is slowing. The result is high output and lower demand, translating into very low retail gas prices. However, there is consensus among Arab OPEC nations that crude will return to between $70 and $80 per barrel by the end of the 2015.

Anticipating A Crude Oil Rebound

Reuters quoted unnamed OPEC ministers last week, most of whom agree the current decline in prices will stabilize and “find new equilibrium” by the end of the year. The sources told Reuters the reason they expect a turnaround is that they do not foresee the global economy slipping into a new recession, but rather enduring a momentary period of slowdown before growing once more.

In the meantime, the travails of low crude oil prices will remain bad news for producers but good news for American drivers. One motorist in Texas told TurnpikeInfo.com he was able to fill up his small car for only $22, and that was using premium unleaded. For many drivers around the country, the cost of topping off the tank is about 40% lower than it was just six months ago.

Truckers Getting Big Break With Low Diesel Prices

That savings also translates to the hauling industry. Truckers have been enjoying slowly declining diesel prices for nearly a year, with the declines accelerating in recent weeks. As it stands, the average price of a gallon of diesel is now about $3.14, which is about 75¢ less than just a few short months ago. For a tractor-trailer with a 150-gallon tank, that translates into $113 in savings for every fill-up.

Region by region, the area with the highest diesel prices continues to be the New England and Central Atlantic states, where the cost is $3.29 and $3.30, respectively. California has the most expensive diesel at $3.34 per gallon.

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Gas Prices Settle Just Under $2.30 In Latest Weekly Survey

Year-end Gas Prices Down 30% From Start Of 2014

Gas price trends for week of December 29, 2014The average cost of a gallon of gas dipped another dime during the past week to settle at $2.30 per gallon, according to the latest weekly survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The cost of gas is now over a dollar less than it was when the year started, and some drivers are paying as much as $1.18 less for gas than they were when 2014 began. Region by region, the most expensive place to get gas remains the West Coast, where the average driver is paying about $2.62 per gallon, but even that price is 91¢ lower than at the beginning of the year.

The cost of diesel also dropped a fair amount during the past week, with the average trucker paying about 7¢ per gallon less than last week, and the average hauler paying about 69¢ less than a year ago. Overall, the U.S. average diesel price is now just $3.21 per gallon. Because of refinery and supply issues, the most expensive place to get diesel is currently the New England states, where the average price is $3.37 per gallon. California comes in a close second, with the average diesel price ticking in at $3.36 in the Golden State.

Crude Oil Hits Fresh Lows On The Year

Meanwhile, domestic crude oil prices hit a fresh low on the year Monday, closing at $53.76. West Texas Intermediate is well on track to have shed more than 20% of its contract price during December, although there remain two trading days in 2014. Brent Light Sweet Crude, the overseas benchmark, is also coming off lows for the year, having closed below $58 on Monday. At present, both futures indices were up in early Tuesday trading.

The crude contracts are a strong indicator of where gasoline prices are heading in the next several weeks. Crude prices are down nearly 50% for the year, and as the price of crude has fallen, particularly since the middle of the summer, retail prices have followed. The corollary has been very close, too. At its peak price in 2014, regular unleaded topped out at $3.71 in late April, and again at $3.70 in June. WTI hit its peak in June, as well, before beginning a slow decline that accelerated as the holidays began.

Domestic Oil Production Still Expanding, But Likely To Slow

The likelihood of crude continuing to fall is beginning to wane, however, as oil riggers in the United States have begun shutting drilling operations for the time being. Bloomberg news cited a report from Baker Hughes this morning that U.S. oil drillers idled more rigs last week than at any time since 2012, primarily because the cost of driller is not justified when prices fall below a specific floor.

U.S. oil refinery

U.S. oil production has contributed to a significant slide in crude oil futures, but some U.S. companies are temporarily idling rigs, which could slow production growth and potentially halt the decline in crude prices.

Moreover, Bloomberg News is reporting today it expects the U.S. crude supply to remain at 387.2 million barrels on the week, which the media group reports as the highest stockpile of crude since 1982. Reporters cited U.S. statistical data and their own surveys when publishing their data. Bloomberg also reported this morning that domestic oil production is at its highest levels since tracking began in 1983.

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Gas Prices Fall 15¢ In Single Week

Prices Below $2.00 Per Gallon In  Some Areas

Gas price trend for week of December 22, 2014The price of gas continued its precipitous decline during the past week, falling an average of 15¢ to settle at $2.40 per gallon. The figures are detailed in the weekly gas price survey from the Energy Information Administration, a branch of the Department of Energy. In some regions, the price of gas is so low it is closing in on the $2.00 per gallon level, and for a few lucky drivers across the Gulf Coast, the price is actually below that threshold for the first time in several years.

This week’s price decline is so dramatic, it underscores the close bond between the price of consumer gas and the futures markets. Crude oil futures are down by half since the middle of the summer, when gas prices were averaging about $3.70 per gallon, nationwide. Since then, domestic crude oil, West Texas Intermediate, has fallen from a high near $105 per barrel down to close at $56.22 on Tuesday. WTI has been trading between $50 and $60 per barrel for the past two weeks, ever since it close under $60 on December 11. Brent Light Sweet Crude, the overseas benchmark, is also down substantially in the past six months, from $111 per barrel at the end of June to $60.68 on Tuesday. Brent has closed under $60 twice in the past ten days.

As Goes Crude, So Goes Retail Gasoline

Gas prices through the year and at the end of 2014

At left: The price of gasoline has fallen so dramatically, the cost is below $2.00 per gallon in some areas of the United States, including at this station in Round Rock, Texas, near the Dell Campus, which is adjacent to the Texas 45 toll road. Meanwhile, the accompanying price chart from the E.I.A. displays the dramatic rise and fall of gas prices during 2014. Photo: Eric Scallion. Chart and data: E.I.A.

The question of how low prices will go is a point of contention among energy analysts, but the general mood is that the current glut in oil will likely last well into 2015. A report on Bloomberg news this morning details the trio of issues that have converged to impel the biggest yearly drop in oil prices since the Great Recession began in 2008. Those factors are high output by the United States, where the shale boom has help production rise to its highest levels in 30 years, continued high output by OPEC nations, and a slowing global economy that will continue to reduce worldwide demand in the coming months.

While the U.S. economy is growing at a fairly good pace – the Commerce Department reported gross domestic product rose at an annualized 5 percent rate during the third quarter – market watchers from Europe to the U.S. agree the rise in American demand for gas is not enough to offset the lower demand overseas.

While much of what happens in energy markets may seem esoteric to the average consumer, the corollary between crude and retail gasoline is unmistakable. Particularly in the face of high domestic production, drivers are not likely to see gasoline prices reversing course any time soon. Brent and WTI futures for February delivery are not any higher than the January contracts, which are influencing the price of gasoline today.

Diesel Prices Also Down, More Consistent From Region To Region

That price of gas has fallen $1.30 in the past six months, but the price of diesel has also come down substantially in the past six months, although the declines have not been quite as dramatic as retail gas. Diesel prices, on average, fell 14¢ per gallon last week to settle at $3.28 per gallon. As with regular automotive fuels, diesel prices vary region by region, but the disparity from one section of the nation to the next is not as dramatic as with unleaded gas.

For instance, the lowest prices for gasoline are found along the Gulf Coast, where the average consumer is paying about $2.18 per gallon. The highest average price, by survey region, is the West Coast, where prices are still about $2.70 per gallon. That is a range of 52¢. On the other hand, diesel’s highest prices are presently found on the East Coast, where the cost is $3.43 per gallon in the New England states, higher than California, where the price averages $3.41. The lowest cost is across the Gulf Coast, where prices for diesel are about $3.18. That puts the range for diesel at only 33¢; the fact diesel is more costly than unleaded gas also means that, mathematically, the cost of the fuel is more consistent from region to region.

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Gas Prices Crumble Amid Supply Glut And OPEC Discord

Domestic Crude Down Almost 50% In Six Months

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our weekly report was not published for the week of December 8, 2014. However, we have the weekly E.I.A. price survey for the week available, and it may be viewed or downloaded.

Gas price trends for week of December 15, 2014The price of a gallon of gas has plunged in the past two weeks to record lows for the decade, and prices are poised to go even lower. Commodities experts agree consumers are benefiting from a glut of domestic shale oil and a recent decision by OPEC members not to alter production levels overseas.

As a result the average U.S. consumer is paying almost a quarter per gallon less for gas than just two weeks ago, according to the latest survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The E.I.A. report shows the average U.S. gas price is now $2.55 per gallon, down 13¢ in the past week, which follows a 10¢ decline the week earlier.

Gas price trends for the week of December 8, 2014

Top: The price of gas declined a stunning 13¢ per gallon last week. Above: The current price decline comes on the heels of a 10¢ decline the during the previous week.

The price of gas has declined so substantially that it is now almost 70¢ less than at this time last year, and prices, nationally, are about $1.15 less than just six months ago. That translates to a savings of $17.25 for every 15-gallon fill-up, and it is not just the general public that is benefitting.

Diesel Prices Declining At Faster Pace

After slow-paced price declines for most of the summer and autumn, truckers and fleet operators are realizing a substantial benefit from the lower crude oil prices, which has lead to lower costs for diesel. The average price of a gallon of diesel is down 45¢, year on year, and now averages $3.42 per gallon nationwide. Even in California, where prices remain higher than most states, the cost of diesel is down over 50¢ on the year to $3.55 per gallon.

That kind of a price decline means a substantial savings for the operation of a single tractor-trailer rig, to say nothing of the savings for small to large fleets of trucks. Given the average rig will hold about 250 gallons of diesel, a savings of $125 for every stop quickly aggregates into the thousands-of-dollars range.

Crude Continues Trading In Low $50’s Range

Domestic crude oil, West Texas Intermediate, has been trading in the lower $50 range for the last several days, although prices rebounded somewhat during early Tuesday trading. However, Brent Light Sweet crude, which is the overseas benchmark, was down early Tuesday after OPEC ministers again stated they would not cap production to control pricing.

Meanwhile, the reduced oil prices have touched off global instability in some regions threatened by the lower pricing, particularly unstable African nations, including Libya and Nigeria. In South America, the Venezuelan economy, already feeling a pinch due to civil unrest this year, is poised to suffer setbacks due to a sharp decline in revenues from oil exports.

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Gas Prices Continue To Tumble As Crude Futures Sink Further

Gas price trend for week of December 1, 2014Some Analysts Predicting Oil At $50 Per Barrel Due To Shale Boom

The price of regular unleaded gas continued its months-long tumble to settle at an average $2.78 per gallon, according to the latest weekly price survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The E.I.A. report also shows diesel prices continued their price drops during the past week, with the nationwide average coming in at $3.60 per gallon. On average, American drivers are paying about 93¢ per gallon less for gas than they were just six months ago, which translates to $13.95 of savings for every fill up of a 15-gallon fuel tank.

Regional Prices Continue Falling At Different Rates

Gas prices around the country still vary widely by region, however, with the West Coast continuing to tally the highest prices in the country. Even so, for drivers from California to Washington State, the average price of $3.02 per gallon is welcome relief after a summer in which prices were regularly well above the $4.00 mark. The lowest prices in the country continue to be found in the Gulf Coast states, where the average price is now about $2.53 per gallon, but some stations near Austin had gas for less than $2.50.

Crude Oil Leading The Way To Lower Prices

Meanwhile, the price of fuel is expected to keep falling as it follows the trends in crude oil futures. Domestic crude, West Texas Intermediate, is now less than $70 per barrel to its lowest point in over five years. As WTI goes, so goes Brent Light Sweet Crude, which is also trading just above $70 these days. The reason is, of course, the U.S. shale boom, which has produced a much larger crude oil surplus than originally expected by both drillers and refineries.

Michael Yoshikami, founder of Destination Wealth Management, told CNBC Tuesday it was not unrealistic to think domestic crude could fall as low as $50 per barrel. Another oil market analyst, Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix in Zurich, said Brent could still trade in the $60-$70 range, like WTI does currently, particularly if the U.S. supply remains high and overseas producers continue their high level of output.

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