New Look And Travel Features Coming To new home page

The new home page of features a touch-slider that will enable you to search popular toll roads from any device, using either a mouse or the swipe of your finger! Click the image to enlarge it.

After six weeks of experimentation, I am pleased to announce the design of a new home page for has been largely completed. While there are some minor adjustments to be made, the new home of can be officially unveiled. The home page redesign is part of a larger website upgrade that is continuing through the summer of 2014. That redesign includes streamlining navigation, adding new travel features, adding several new roads, including bridges and tunnels that charge tolls, as well as rolling out a fully responsive website design. What that means is the information you will be able to get on the desktop will be the same on a tablet and a smart phone. Until now, the desktop website and the mobile website were separate entities, which essentially has forced us to pick what kind of material is delivered to our mobile users, and I have never really liked the fact they seem to have been short-changed on the information we offer.

Responsive design

A teaser image we placed on our Twitter feed June 13, which shows how the new home page automatically adjusts to any screen and device. The responsive design will eliminate the need for a mobile website platform.

This is the first major redesign of since we added Pennsylvania and Ohio to our site in June 2012, at which time we became a truly interstate site. Last year, we added the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway to our list, and as we go through the summer, we will be adding the Delaware Memorial Bridge, Delaware Turnpike, the Indiana East-West Toll Road, the Chicago Skyway and the various tollways around the Chicago area. The design and information upgrades are a major step forward in making a full-service travel site, but they are only the beginning.

New lodging search

Our new lodging channel will not only provide options to search hotels, you will be able to reserve a room even while you travel, thanks to a reservations engine provided by our partners at Priceline. Click the image to enlarge it.

In May, we quietly unveiled our new lodging channel, which works with a booking engine hosted by our partners at Priceline. The lodging feature is already active, as any of you searching tolls will already have noticed. When you get toll results, there is a lodging icon that is displayed whenever there are hotels or motels that can be reserved near your destination city. The data are provided directly by Priceline, as is the reservations system, which means your reservations are safe and guaranteed. As we refine the site further, there will be options to search for hotels and motels adjacent to specific exits, so you will be able to actually plan your travel more efficiently with

As we go through July, the current site will be completely replaced with the new design, and the new features we are developing will continue to be added through August. As that happens, you will see many pages change location, but there will be automatic forwards built in so you will always easily find the information you are seeking. In fact, the new design and structure of the site is meant to be super easy to navigate, with no-nonsense icons that are either identical to or closely resemble those you would see on the highway.

This is an exciting time for, and I am so glad to be able to count you among the site’s visitors and users!

UPDATE ON NOVEMBER 4, 2014: After two delays due to the complexities of migrating to a new system, in addition to the fact I run two businesses and am media developer for a third, I can confidently state we will have our new site online by the Thanksgiving holiday. I apologize for the delays, but believe me, the new and upgraded site, which will include new toll roads, will have been worth your wait.

Thank you, again, for your patience and your support!

Gas Price Trends Return To The Norm: Going Up

Weekly gas price trend for June 23, 2014The price of a gallon of gas returned to the $3.70 level during the past week, pushed in part by the increased demand brought on by summer driving, but more so by the radical instability that continues to shake Iraq. The national average and regional figures are reported in the weekly survey published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The $3.70 threshold represents the first time since the end of April that the national cost of fuel has been so high.

Prices had been declining during May, albeit very slowly, primarily on lower demand in states like Florida and remarkable volatility in the Midwest, notably Ohio and Illinois. Those declines had been held in check by a dwindling supply of crude oil Cushing, Oklahoma, a major supplier of crude to refineries across the nation. However, the military strife that has literally ripped Iraq to shreds in recent weeks has pushed the price of West Texas Intermediate to levels not seen since 2011.

Trading started over $107 per barrel Monday, before settling at $106.17 by day’s end. Crude prices were retreating sharply in after-hours trading late Monday night on news that extreme fighting in Iraq would possibly not affect that nation’s oil supply or refineries. That bit of good news, albeit speculation, was just enough to push investors to take profits on crude for August delivery, pushing the WTI down to $105.69 by 11 p.m.

Ohio Turnpike signs near Cleveland

Drivers across Ohio enjoyed a major price decline. For Cleveland, the cost of gas dropped 15¢ per gallon, according to the weekly EIA report.

Region by region, only Midwestern drivers enjoyed a dip in the price at the pump this week. The average regional price of gas dropped about 2¢ per gallon during the past week, the E.I.A. reported, a decline that was spurred by significant price changes in Ohio and Illinois. Drivers in the Buckeye state, on average, enjoyed a 13¢ drop in the per gallon price of regular unleaded. In Cleveland, the price declines were even greater, as drivers enjoyed a 15¢ per gallon drop in prices. Chicago, which often dominates Illinois’ price points, enjoyed a 9¢ per gallon price decline.

The Rocky Mountain states did not fare so well, and neither did the Gulf Coast states. Prices in Denver pushed upward over 7¢ per gallon as the broader Rocky Mountain region saw prices jump nearly 8¢ per gallon. In the Deep South, drivers in states from Alabama to Texas watched as prices pushed upward by about a 7¢ per gallon. However, the Gulf Coast enjoys the lowest regional price of fuel, at about $3.49.

For truckers, the cost of diesel is heading back up, as well, bringing an end to a six-week streak lower prices. Diesel fuel pushed up about 4¢ per gallon across the U.S., but prices along the West Coast moved even higher, up about 7¢ per gallon. The price increases were the largest endured by truckers since the end of February.


ISIS Crisis In Iraq Creates Reversal Of Fortune For U.S. Drivers

Retail Gas Prices Rise Amid Turmoil In Mideast

Weekly gas price trend for June 16, 2014Forget about the pithy battles in Ukraine. The sudden takeover of much of northwestern Iraq by forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, better known as ISIS, has caused investors to bid up the cost of Brent Light Sweet Crude and, in particular, the domestic crude oil, West Texas Intermediate. The result for U.S. drivers is the momentary decline in gas prices has reversed, and with crude oil prices spiking at record levels, wholesale gasoline prices have already followed suit, leading to an anticipatory hike in retail gasoline prices that is already affecting American drivers.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest weekly survey of retail prices shows the average gallon of unleaded gasoline in the U.S. is up two cents, back to the $3.69 level it was two weeks ago. While the weekly rise was not as severe as some week-over-week price hikes experienced this year, it is a portent of things to come, particularly when one examines the crude and wholesale futures markets at the New York Mercantile Exchange, NYMEX.

Crude Oil Spikes To Record Levels As Whole Sale Gas Jumps

The price of crude oil has spiked well above $106 per barrel for WTI, and traders are bidding the price closer to the $107 mark, a level not seen since 2011. That is a price point not uncommon for overseas crude oil, notably Brent, which is now above $112 per barrel, a level not seen since last year. The more immediate impactor for consumer gas prices is the wholesale futures index. Reformulated oxygenate blends, RBOB, were trading nearly $3.08 per gallon on NYMEX Monday, which is about seven cents per gallon more than the previous 2014 high point on May 19. The reasons are clear: Investors fear major supply disruptions from Iraq at a time when global demand is increasing.

Retail Prices Could Begin Spiking In Less Than Two Weeks

What is the crux of all these numbers? If the trends over the past year continue, consumers will feel a pinch at the pump within ten days, with the weekly fuel survey reflecting a major spike in gas prices by the end of June.’s research of RBOB shows retail prices tend to lag about 10 – 14 days behind the wholesale future prices, when looking at the trend lines adjacent to each other.

The problem could be worse in some regions and cities, in particular, where fuel costs are known to be highly volatile. For instance, Ohio has been enduring wild swings in gas prices for weeks, and the latest survey shows another 6¢ per gallon increase during the past week. Two states away, in Chicago, the cost of gasoline lurch upward by 8¢ per gallon, to $4.09. That erased price drops in recent weeks, and even stacked on additional costs for consumers. Even price declines in some states, where seasonal travel actually slows at this time of year, notably Florida, recent declines of gas prices continued but slowed. On a region-by-region basis, consumers were generally paying at least the same, and often more, than they did last week.


Gas Prices Give Back Gains; Diesel Prices Take A Summer Dip

Last Week’s Gas Price Increase Erased As East Coast Enjoys A Summer Break In Price Hikes

Weekly gas price trend for June 9, 2014The price of gas reversed course during the past week as the 2¢ gains that were reported in the June 2 government fuel price survey were wiped out this week. The pricing news is journaled in the latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This week’s E.I.A. report shows the price of gas did a precise about-face, at least on a national level, while prices declined more so in many regions. The Rocky Mountain States and the broader West Coast region, which does not include California, were the only survey areas where prices stagnated. At the national level, the price of gas now averages about $3.67 for a gallon of regular unleaded, exactly where it was two weeks ago.

The biggest price declines were found along the East Coast, particularly in the Lower Atlantic States, where prices were down over two cents, on average, from last week. Along the Gulf Coast and in the Midwest, prices were also off by about two pennies, but for the Midwest, as usual, the average price data are distorted by substantial swings in fuel costs in certain states. For instance, in Ohio, which has endured substantial price volatility, the average gallon of gas costs 12¢ less this week. At the city level, the numbers are even more telling. For Cleveland, the price of gas dropped about 12¢, much like its home state of Ohio, but two states over, in Illinois, the price of gas in Chicago only fell about 4¢ per gallon.

Truckers Catch A Break As Diesel Drives Below $3.90

Truckers enjoying lower diesel prices

Diesel prices are at a five-month low after the national average fell below $3.90 per gallon this week.

For the first time since January, the national average price of diesel fuel dropped below $3.90 per gallon, according to this week’s E.I.A. report. The price of diesel slipped downward by almost 3¢ per gallon during the past week, officially settling at $3.89. That price point is the best figure truckers and other diesel drivers have seen since the end of January, when prices began a continue climb to well over $4.00 per gallon.

While this week’s news is good for truckers, prices in New England, the Central Atlantic region and in California remain well above $4.00 per gallon. Only the drivers in the Gulf Coast states are enjoying relatively low diesel prices, as the average from Alabama through Louisiana is now about $3.77 per gallon.

Uncertainty Looms As Crude Oil Futures Soar Once More

While this week’s gas price survey is the best report from the EIA in about a month, the news is not likely to persist in drivers’ favor. The reason is the all-important crude oil futures index, West Texas Intermediate, which has been trading in record territory in this year. In fact, after-hours trades on Monday, June 9, were the their highest level of the year, and the highest level seen in three years. Investors trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange had bid the WTI up to about $104.50 per barrel as of 8:30 p.m. Monday night. That would place the futures index, at least on the NYMEX, within range of its three-year high, a portent of what could face consumers at the retail level come July.

Bloomberg News is citing a number of factors for the increase in the futures price, including tightening supplies of crude oil in the United States, which is the world’s largest oil market. Other factors included speculation in the wake of last week’s favorable unemployment report, which leads investors to believe more people will be on the road for business and pleasure in the coming weeks.  The likelihood of increased demand during the summer travel season, coupled with renewed demand from China, has investors eyeballing the possibility of tighter supplies amid increased consumer need.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported renewed unrest in Libya, where political discord during the past three years has severely disrupted production. Output is being reported at only about 180,000 barrels of oil per day, compared with about 1.3-million per day one year ago.


Gas Prices Nudge Upward As Midwest Leads National Average

Price Breaks End With Start Of June And Summer Driving Season

Weekly gas price trend for June 2, 2014The cost of a gallon of gasoline slipped upward about two cents per gallon during the past week, according to the latest weekly survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The U.S. average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded is $3.69, as retail gas prices gave up a three-week respite and continued what has been a steady series of increases since the second week of February. Although prices did take a breather at the beginning of May, falling two consecutive weeks, those price declines were caused largely by significant price volatility in the Midwest, where the cost of fuel rises and falls in major swings from week to week.

Midwest Drivers Endure Shocking Rise In Gas Prices

In fact, it is the Midwest’s almost notorious volatility that has contributed to this week’s U.S. average price hike, with Ohio leading way. Drivers in the Buckeye State suffered a 6¢ per gallon leap in gas prices. At the local level, prices in Cleveland hopped up about 10¢ per gallon. In Chicago, prices jumped a heart-stopping 14¢ to push their way past the $4.00 threshold. In fact, prices in Chicago average $4.06 per gallon, although that is not the highest rate in the nation. Los Angeles is among the cities that shares the dubious distinction of gas prices over the 4-dollar mark, with the average driver in the city of angels paying about $4.18 per gallon.

Chicago aerial view of skyline and the loop

Drivers in Chicago suffered a 14¢ hike in the average price of gas, as unleaded hit $4.06 per gallon.

Region to region, the price of gas is spinning on an axis of uncertainty, with the cost of driving holding steady across a large swatch of the Eastern seaboard. The cost of fuel in New England remains around $3.73 per gallon this week, and prices across the Mid-Atlantic region held steady at $3.70. In the Lower Atlantic, the cost of gas dipped by about 2¢. However, prices in the Rocky Mountain states and along the Gulf Coast were facing pressure to begin a fresh round of cost increases; on the West Coast, most drivers are paying about two-cents more this week than they were last week.

Crude Oil Prices Remain Above $100 Per Barrel

The increase in gas prices comes on the heels of renewed increase in the crude oil futures prices. Prices in early May declined slightly as West Texas Intermediate began to fall below $100 per barrel, but the bid on futures contracts quickly reversed. WTI peaked May 23 at $104.39. After-hours WTI prices were trading at $102.54 Monday night, and Bloomberg News was reporting earlier in the day that traders are watching inventories closely before making any buying or selling decisions. In fact, trading volume was about 60 percent below the 100-day trading average, meaning investors are waiting on the sidelines for new inventory and refinery stock reports. The EIA issues such reports on a weekly basis.

Truckers’ Diesel Prices Holding Steady For Now

Meanwhile, the cost of operating a tractor-trailer rig, at least where fuel is concerned, remained nearly the same this week. Prices have been slipping down in tiny fractions for the past several weeks, and the national average of a gallon of diesel is now about $3.92. That is down about 10¢ per gallon since prices peaked on February 24. However, there are plenty of areas where the cost of diesel is still well above $4.00 per gallon, including California, New England and the Central Atlantic regions. On the East Coast, truckers from Maryland to Maine were paying an average of $4.12 per gallon, while the price in California was about $4.10.


Gas Prices Mixed As Summer Driving Approaches

Editor’s note: The writer of the weekly gas updates, Danny Pryor, is currently traveling with an Internet and domain conference in Las Vegas. Therefore, this week’s report will be greatly abbreviated. Normal reporting will resume next week.

Fuel Prices Only Slightly Higher On A National Basis, But Some Regions Enjoy Slight Price Decline

Gas price trend for the week of May 26, 2014The cost of driving was pretty much the same this week as last, according to the latest fuel price survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The cost of a gallon of gas held steady at $3.67 per gallon, but the price of fuel did increase several cents per gallon, particularly in Midwest, where price volatility is common. For drivers in individual states, the weekly report conveyed good news or exceptionally bad news.

In California, long beset by prices well above the $4.00 per gallon mark, this week marked another of price declines. The cost of a gas slipped downward by over 2¢ per gallon, bringing the average price of fuel in the Golden State down to about $4.16. Halfway across the country, in Ohio, the average gas price jumped by 11¢ per gallon, all but erasing a substantial price decline that was enjoyed in the Buckeye State earlier this month. It was Ohio that largely contributed to the Midwest region’s average price increases.

Region by region, the price of gas varies considerably, as it usually does. Gulf states are currently enjoying the lowest average price of gas, while the West Coast remains the most expensive place to fill up the tank.

The following breakdown represents the current weekly survey of gas prices in the United States, by region:

East Coast: $3.66

New England: $3.73

Central Atlantic: $3.71

Lower Atlantic: $3.60

Gulf Coast: $3.44

Midwest: $3.65

Rocky Mountain: $3.50

West Coast: $4.00

Turnpike Exit To I-4 In Orlando Closed Overnight To May 23

Ramp Closures To Impact Drivers Through The Week

An ongoing project to revamp the interchange of Florida’s Turnpike and Interstate 4 will result in renewed offramp closures for drivers trying to get to I-4 from Florida’s Turnpike, according to a news release from the Florida Department of Transportation. The roadway closures are similar to those instituted from April 27 through May 2. Only drivers trying to exit the turnpike at I-4 are affected, as are truckers who wish to use the tandem parking lot that is in the middle of the interchange. The ramp closures do not affect drivers who want to get onto the Turnpike.

The ramps from Exit 259 in Orlando are closed only during the overnight hours, and the closures affect both northbound and southbound travelers exiting Florida’s Turnpike, according to the latest FDOT release. Christina Deason, spokesman for the FDOT, said, “All exiting traffic [will be] detoured to Exit 255, Consulate Drive, for SunPass customers or Exit 254, Orlando South/US 17 92/441, for cash customers.” Cash customers will be detoured along the westbound leg of the Beachline Expressway, State Road 528, in order to reach I-4, she said.

Truckers Tandem Access Affected

Construction closures and detours for I-4 and Florida's Turnpike

The trucker lot that was affected in April will be impacted once more. Click to get full list of detours in a PDF.

Truckers will be affected by the closure of the tandem lot on the nights of May 20 and 21. Deason said the lot will remain open until 1 a.m.; then it will close until 5 a.m. “During active ramp closures, tandems will not be able to exit the Turnpike to access the lot,” Deason said in the news release. “No left-in [or] left-out, to and from the staging area will be possible.”

Single trailers will be permitted on the lot during the closure hours, Deason said, but the access to the turnpike from the lot will be intermittently impacted between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Images of the detours were provided by the FDOT and may be viewed in portable document format.

Gas Prices Largely Unchanged, But Crude Heads Upward

Gas Prices Move Sideways For Most U.S. Drivers

Weekly gas price trend for May 19, 2014The national average price of a gallon of regular unleaded remained largely unchanged during the past week, according to the latest survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The cost of gasoline across the contiguous 48 states remained $3.66 per gallon. Regional gas prices in the Midwest and on the East Coast moved upward and downward between 1¢ and 3¢ per gallon, while most other regions experienced hardly a change in the cost of fuel at the retail level.

Some states helped drag their regional price averages upward or downward. For instance, Minnesotans experienced an overall 3¢ per gallon price increase, contributing to a nearly 2¢ gas price lurch across the broader Midwest region. In the Lower Atlantic states, Florida gas prices did the opposite of Minnesota’s price trend, falling by about 3¢. That helped the Lower Atlantic gas prices dip by about 2¢ per gallon.

$4.00 Gas Remains In California And Other States

The good news for drivers is that the months-long trend of increasing gas prices has taken a breather, giving Americans a much-needed break from unrelenting fuel price hikes that have threatened to push gas prices near the $4.00 per gallon mark. That dubious pricing benchmark has already experienced in places, particularly California, where the average price of a gallon of gas is $4.16, according to the E.I.A. survey. Hawaii gas prices are also significantly higher than of $4.00 per gallon, largely due to the logistics of getting fuel to the island state. is showing at least two other states that are within striking range of the $4.00 price level, that is those that are 10¢ or less from hitting that psychological price target. Taken at the city level, New York and Chicago are just pennies from having a $4.00 price for regular unleaded, according to, where consumers report fuel prices. However, each of those cities has already witnessed that price point this year, according to the E.I.A.

The Crude Factor Likely To Reemerge In Coming Weeks

The current reprieve in noticeable gas price hikes has been due to a number of factors, most notably the final conversion from winter blend to summer blended fuels. The other factor is, of course, the price of crude oil, which drags wholesale gas rates with it. That, in turn, affects retail prices.

Gas station on Florida's Turnpike

Drivers have experienced a reprieve in the constant gas price hikes, but that may not last long as crude oil once again moves higher.

Crude prices had declined somewhat during the last half of April, but investors have been trading futures upward once more. For a short time, from April 30 to May 6, the price of West Texas Intermediate, the domestic crude benchmark, had actually traded under $100 per barrel. Since May 7, however, prices have continued an uneven climb over the $100/bbl level. WTI futures were trading around $102.62 /bbl in after-hours trading Monday night, just before 11 p.m., according to charts at and at Trading charts have a lag time of about 20 minutes.

Bloomberg was reporting Monday investors are concerned about dwindling stockpiles of crude oil reaching and emerging from a key facility at Cushing, Oklahoma, where a significant portion of the nation’s crude oil transits. Supplies at Cushing have been falling since the end of January, according to E.I.A. chart data, except for a minor bump in supply at the start of April. Supply levels are now at their lowest since the first week of December 2008. Bloomberg reports that investors are concerned the dwindling Cushing supply could bring down the current supply levels across the rest of the country, which would lead to higher costs.

“Falling Cushing stockpiles is giving a general upward push in oil, and if they continue to drop prices will be further supported,” said Will Yun, a commodities analyst at Hyundai Futures Co. in Seoul, South Korea. He spoke to Bloomberg reporters by phone Monday. In short, that means the current price level of WTI will be sustained, at the very least, and prices could perhaps go higher.


Gas Prices Take Another Breather, Falling For Second Consecutive Week

California Drivers Get Big Break, But Ohio Gives Back A Large Part Of Last Week’s Price Drop

Gas price trend for week of May 12, 2014

Gas price trend for week of May 12, 2014

The average price of a gallon of unleaded gas dropped almost two cents during the past week, according the latest weekly survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The price of gas settled at $3.67, which is down from 2014’s high of $3.71, a dubious achievement attained only two weeks ago. Unlike last week, when favorable volatility pushed Midwestern gas prices down significantly, this week’s gains were lead by moderate declines in the Lower Atlantic, Gulf Coast and West Coast regions. Each district survey area enjoyed a decline of about three cents.

The drop in prices on the West Coast was due largely to a deep decline in prices in California, where the average price of gas fell by more than a nickel per gallon. That relief may be scarcely noticeable, however, for a state where the average price of gas is still about $4.17 per gallon. Drivers in Los Angeles and San Francisco are still paying more than their state’s average. For drivers across the broader West Coast region, the price of fuel remained mostly flat, although prices did nudge upward a penny in Washington State.

This week’s gas price survey provided Midwestern drivers a complete opposite of the story that played out last week. Traditionally a volatile region, gas prices in the Midwest fell almost seven cents per gallon last week, led by a breathtaking 12¢ per gallon decline in prices in Ohio. This week, however, the cost of gas rebounded by 8¢ in the Buckeye State, which helped halt what might have been a broader regional price decline. Because of Ohio and other retail pricing hot spots, the Midwest gas price average did not move, remaining at $3.60 per gallon. However, drivers across Minnesota enjoyed a drop in prices, as did many motorists in Illinois. In fact, the price of gas in Chicago fell by 10¢ per gallon for regular unleaded.

Truckers Enjoy Slight Price Breaks As Diesel Cost Declines Slowly

The mixed news for U.S. drivers did not apply so unequally to truckers. Most of the nation’s haulers are paying somewhat less for diesel fuel over the past couple of weeks, and the declines that began at the end of April have continued, albeit at a slow pace. The average price of a gallon of diesel is now about $3.95, although for many truckers along the East Coast, the price ranges anywhere from $4.04 in New England to $4.16 along the Lower Atlantic states.

The price of gas on Florida's turnpike is well above the average for the Lower Atlantic region.

The price of gas on Florida’s turnpike is well above the average for the Lower Atlantic region.

In urban areas, the price can be significantly higher. For instance, in the Lower Atlantic states, the average price of a gallon of diesel is about $3.92 per gallon. However, the price of diesel was $4.09 at a service plaza on Florida’s Turnpike Sunday. In the inner city, the cost of that same gallon of diesel is as high as $4.25, far in excess of the highest regional average price, according to the EIA survey.

Crude Oil Price Declines Come To Halt Amid Concerns Of Declining Stockpiles In Oklahoma

Although the amount of crude oil being produced across North America continues to grow, the stockpiles of crude at the Cushing, Oklahoma storage facility continued to decline during the past week. Financial analysts interviewed by Bloomberg expected the stockpiles at Cushing to continue to decline, putting upward pressure on the price of West Texas Intermediate crude.

The price of WTI has come down from its recent highs, and the June contract had even been trading just under $100 per barrel last week. However, the price of crude has moved back over $100 per barrel. Bloomberg observed the cost of domestic crude is up about 2.2 percent for 2014, but compared with the trading prices only six months ago, the prices are up almost nine percent since Thanksgiving. That is in line with the overall increase since last year at this time, which is a contributor to the year-over-year gas price increases consumers have experienced.

Annual Price Changes Are Significant, And Not In A Good Way

The annual gas price differential is substantial, given that the EIA had forecast gas prices to fall through much of 2014. The EIA has revised a number of pricing and supply forecasts this year, amid a host of unexpected factors, mostly in overseas markets. Geopolitical instability and fuel supply disruptions overseas first pushed Brent Light Sweet crude significantly higher starting in the late summer of 2013, and by the end of Thanksgiving, Brent was soaring toward $110 per barrel, even while WTI was plunging. Supply problems overseas persist, and the Ukraine crisis has continued to cause instability in overseas markets.

That means what was supposed to be a cheaper summer driving season for Americans is not likely to happen this year. The current average cost of gas is about seven cents higher on a nationwide basis, but that figure is tempered only because of year over year price drops in the Midwest and Rockies, two regions that are notoriously volatile when it comes to pricing. Price declines for those areas are concentrated, at least this week, primarily in Minnesota and Colorado, respectively. For drivers in the state of 10,000 lakes, the cost of a gallon of unleaded is down a stunning 38¢ versus last year, while in Colorado, the cost of fuel is down by about 19¢.

The Colorado trend is exactly the opposite of what most drivers are experiencing, and it is part of the reason the national averages scarcely reveal the true annual gas price increase. For most drivers along the East Coast and down to the Lower Atlantic states, the cost of a gallon of gas is anywhere from 19¢ to 21¢ higher. Even in regions that have enjoyed a price break during the past couple of weeks, such as the Gulf Coast and West Coast, prices are 7¢ and 8¢ higher than last year, respectively.


U.S. Average Gas Prices Fall On Sharp Regional Declines

First Gas Price Dips For Broad U.S. Market In Three Months, But Most Drivers Not Likely To Notice

Weekly gas price trend for May 5, 2014After weeks of unrelenting price increases, the average cost of a gallon of unleaded gasoline  declined about three cents during the past week, according to the latest survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. However, the drop in gas price will not be noticeable for most American drivers. The reason is that the national average was lead by a major regional price drop in the Midwest, where the cost of fuel dipped by as much as 13¢ in Ohio, and by an average of about 7¢ across most other states in the American heartland.

An Ohio Turnpike Service Plaza in May 2012. Average gas prices in the Buckeye State were just about this level last week. This week, the price plunged to $3.63 per gallon, leading the Midwest Region in a significant drop in gas prices.

An Ohio Turnpike Service Plaza in May 2012. Average gas prices in the Buckeye State were just about this level last week. This week, the price plunged to $3.63 per gallon, leading the Midwest Region in a significant drop in gas prices.

California contributed to a price drop in the Western regional states, but the decline in prices was confined primarily to Southern California, according to the EIA report. In San Francisco, gas prices remained largely unchanged. For the broader West Coast region, sans the Golden State, the price of gas actually ticked upward.

The news is almost anticlimactic for most drivers. Drivers in all but one of the survey regions are paying considerably more for gasoline going into the summer of 2014 than they were last year. In fact, Midwesterners are the only drivers paying less, but that is the result of this week’s price declines, and the region is given volatile price swings. The average U.S. gas price is about 15¢ per gallon more this year than last, and in some regions, the price is 25¢ more than it was at this time in 2013.

Prices Of Crude Oil And Gas Futures Down, But So Are Stocks Of Motor Fuel

The price of crude oil and blended gas futures has helped fuel recent price hikes for consumers, and while recent stockpiles of both crude and some refined fuels have increased in recent weeks, the actual refined motor fuel supply has been going down. That has kept consumer gas prices up, even when prices of crude oil or reformulated blend stocks have gone down.

But crude oil prices typically have wild price swings as investors bid futures contracts up or down, depending upon rumor and news. While West Texas Intermediate crude, WTI, is down from its recent highs, it is still hovering just under $100 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, NYMEX. Moreover, the WTI futures for June are still at price levels that have not been seen since the summer of 2011.

OilWTI’s counterpart, Brent Light Sweet Crude, also remains at high levels. The futures contract for foreign oil remained near $108 per barrel Monday evening, even though it has come down from recent highs that placed the contract over $110/bbl. Part of the reason is the continued geopolitical instability in Ukraine. The political tinderbox that is Eastern Europe flared over the weekend, with military confrontations in both east and west Ukraine.

The bloody clashes have impelled European leaders to begin to take seriously the need to diversify their energy sources, which could include some of the surplus U.S. oil and, crucially, natural gas reserves. A two-day conference of the Group of Seven ministers got underway Sunday in Rome, with the U.K. Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, telling reporters the G-7 was looking to diversify its energy supplies in the coming months and years. “We’re determined after this crisis not to go back to business as usual,” Davey said. “Russia has tried to use energy as a weapon on several occasions now, and we’ve got to learn,” Bloomberg quoted Davey as saying. “It would be completely negligent of the G-7, the EU and our international partners not to read the message that [Vladimir] Putin is trying to tell us.”

However, many analysts believe any resources the United States could contribute, to help wean Europe from Russian energy, would take years to deliver at consistent levels. Anas F. Alhajji, chief economist at NGP Energy Capital Management LLC in Irving, Texas, told Bloomberg natural gas supplies from the U.S. likely would not start flowing until at least next year, and possibly 2016.

Still, Davey and the G-7 seemed determined there would be nothing short of a major overhaul in relations with Russia’s energy sector. “We’re determined after this crisis not to go back to business as usual,” Davey said.

How that will impact U.S. gas prices, both in the short term and the long run, remains to be seen. Natural gas is not used for fueling most U.S. cars, although many business and government fleets make use of natural gas for their cars. If supplies of natural gas tighten, due to new shipments to Europe, there is the potential for a longer-term impact on prices for other motor fuels.