Gas Prices Retreat As Summer Driving Season Winds Down For School

Price Declines Come Amid New Global Turmoils

Gas price trend for the week of July 21, 2014While the world watches two intense dramas unfold in Europe and the Middle East, the geopolitical instability seemed to have little immediate impact on gas prices, and consumers across the country enjoyed a refreshing, large decline in the price of retail gas. The latest survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows the price of an average gallon of gas dropped over 4¢ during the past week, settling in below $3.60 for the first time since the beginning of April, at least on a nationwide basis. Region by region, the average price of gas is no longer exceeds $4.00 in any survey area. That is the first time that has happened in three months. In some areas, the retail fuel cost is now less than $3.40.

The news is particularly good across the West Coast, where prices had been stubbornly above the $4.00 mark for month. However, California drivers have not been spared the pain of that dubious price point just yet. Drivers in the Golden State are still paying an average $4.03 per gallon, but that is 10¢ cheaper than two weeks ago. Moreover, the recent retreat in crude oil prices and a decline in wholesale prices have both contributed to a turn-around in prices at the retail level, which have been, for the most part, pushing higher since the start of the year.

In other regions, the cost of gas dropped below $3.40 for the Gulf Coast, where prices are typically the lowest in the nation. Prices in the Lower Atlantic states dropped below $3.50, while prices across the broader East Coast dipped under $3.60.

City Prices Typically Remain Above Regional Averages

Gas prices in Fort Lauderdale on July 15

Some city gas prices remain well above their regional price averages, like at this station near Fort Lauderdale’s aiport. Below: Gas prices next to Texas Route 45, a toll road near Round Rock, were in line with regional prices, as reported by the E.I.A. Photos: TurnpikeInfo.com (top) and Kristen Scallion (bottom).

For city drivers, the price of gas remains above their regional averages. While the prices in the urban cores have come down, along with the national averages, the range across a single city can still vary widely.

Prices near the downtown Fort Lauderdale area were at $3.79 per gallon, although that was 10¢ cheaper than one week ago. Near the airport, and along Florida’s Turnpike, the prices were lower, but still well above the regional and state averages.

Gas prices near Round Rock, Texas on July 18, 2014In Texas, which is part of the Gulf Coast region, the price of gas was slightly higher than the region, itself. TurnpikeInfo.com spotters found prices at some stations adjacent to Texas toll roads where prices were in line with the regional averages. Closer to Austin, the prices are historically higher, especially adjacent to the Capital of Texas Highway and near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

Global Political And Military Flash Points Could Turn Gas Prices Upward

The drop in gas prices comes amid new turmoils in Ukraine and in the Middle East. In fact, before renewed tensions in the past week, domestic crude oil prices had been coming down. Investors seemed to be assured there would be little supply disruption as the result strife in Iraq. However, newly-intensified U.S. sanctions on some Russian companies and individuals added new strain to relations between the two nations in the ongoing situation in Ukraine, and that was before the downing of a Malaysian Airlines jet last week. Then there is Israel’s military actions in Gaza, which expanded the range of Middle East territory now engulfed in military turmoil. The Middle East has vacillated from one crisis-level to the next since last summer, when the potential for a U.S. intervention in Syria was first seriously discussed. Problems in Libya, Iran, Iraq and now Israel have fomented and renewed political discord and, as a result, investor jitters about crude oil supplies.

The result is fresh concern about oil supply disruptions, which has caused investors to bid West Texas Intermediate contracts back above the $100 level. Prices had traded below $100 as recently as one week ago, but WTI futures were trading over $105 per barrel at times Tuesday morning on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The current contract bids are for August delivery.

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Gas Prices Retreat As Crude Supplies And Production Increase

Gas price trends for week of July 14, 2014Finally, Summer Driving Gets A Bit Cheaper For Vacation Travelers

The cost of a summer drive finally relaxed a bit during the past week as the price of a gallon of gas retreated just about 4¢, according to the latest survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Prices took their most significant week-over-week decline since early November, 2013, and this week’s price drops marked the first time all year that retail gas prices have declined significantly for two consecutive weeks.

Prices dropped in nearly every region, but drivers the Rocky Mountain states did not get a price break this week. Both California and the broader West Coast region enjoyed a dip in pricing, while the volatile Midwestern markets enjoyed another week of steep declines that brought prices down, on average, nearly 8¢ per gallon.

Regional Price Averages Impacted By Their Metro City Prices

Gas station near Ohio Turnpike

Prices across the Midwest have been falling faster than other parts of the nation, led by steep metro-area price declines.

Once again, individual, larger cities across the Midwest contributed significantly to the regional average’s price declines, which also impacted West Coast averages this week. For instance, the E.I.A. report shows the price of gas dropped by 10¢ in Chicago and by almost 11¢ in Cleveland, pulling the broad Midwestern price averages down. For the West Coast, particularly in California, price declines from Seattle to San Francisco and Los Angeles contributed significantly to the overall regional dip in fuel costs.

Crude Oil Retreats Below $100 As Production And Supply Go Up

The crude oil outlook is finally beginning to favor consumers, with the price of West Texas Intermediate Crude finally trading below $100 per barrel, the first time that has happened since the beginning of May. Prices spiked during June and into early July on overseas supply concerns and a drop at stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma crude storage facility.

However, geopolitical concerns abroad, notably in Iraq and Libya, have begun to ease, and the crude oil supply in the United States is high, despite the lower supplies at Cushing. Many refineries are able to bypass Cushing, Oklahoma, with new pipelines bringing crude stock directly to the refineries, themselves.

In the meantime, oil production in the United States is at its highest level in 28 years, according to a Bloomberg News report, which cited an separate E.I.A. survey that tracks domestic energy output. The E.I.A. report of July 9 showed crude production in the U.S. had hit 8.51 million barrels of oil per day, which is the highest it has been since October, 1986.

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Drivers Duped By Spoof Toll Collection Emails

Fake Toll Violation Notice Redirects Users To Apparently-Hijacked Church Website In Ontario

U.S. drivers with and without electronic toll accounts have been receiving emails purporting to represent the E-ZPass electronic toll system. The phishing notices have been sent since at least July 8, 2014, and the emails warn users of an unpaid toll that must be paid. The spoof emails use the E-ZPass logo, but they do not originate with E-ZPass or any other state agency.

The emails read, “You have not paid for driving on a toll road. This invoice is sent repeatedly.” The sentence structure and capitalization of the emails do not follow English grammar rules, even to the point of a blatant error at the start of one sentence. “[P]lease service your debt in the shortest possible time,” the email reads, with an obvious capitalization error at the start of the sentence.

TurnpikeInfo.com has received several queries from website visitors asking if the emails are authentic. The spoof demand for payment is completely fake. Furthermore, it does not originate with E-ZPass or with TurnpikeInfo.com.

spoof e-zpass email

A copy of the spoof email being sent to drivers. The link on the email redirects users to a church domain in Canada that has likely been hacked.

Instead, the the alleged sending email address is from the domain GlobalOpen.org, using the email manager@globalopen.org. The website, itself, is a blank page, and a review of source code shows no content of any kind. The domain name is owned by a man named Mobashar Yazdani, according to the Whois database maintained by the sponsoring registrar company, 1and1.com. It is unknown whether the emails are actually being sent from GlobalOpen.org. Mr. Yazdani’s email address is listed as mobyazdani@gmail.com.

Spoof Toll Collection Link Sends Users To Church Domain In Canada

The email contains a link for users to supposedly download their unpaid toll invoice, but the link actually directs users to a domain in Ontario that is likely hijacked. The directory structure and dynamic data used in the link appear to send users to a temporary directory, with data that may be used by either Javascript, PHP or other server-side code to execute an unknown set of instructions. As a security precaution, we at TurnpikeInfo.com did not follow the link to learn what happens. The master domain is IslandBibleChapel.com, which does have a real website operating. That website is built on a content management platform called Joomla.

TurnpikeInfo.com sent an email to the developer of the website, Sault Ste Marie Web Design, in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, Canada, warning that their client website may have been compromised. At the time of the writing of this article, we had not received a reply.

 Toll Violation Notices Are Only Sent Via Postal Mail

If a driver has violated a toll barrier or has a toll invoice to be paid, states’ Departments of Transportation always send the invoice to the address of the registered vehicle using the U.S. Postal Service. Email is never used by state agencies when attempting to collect tolls, either on account or for a violation.

However, even the postal mail has fallen victim to scammers, in recent months. The state of Florida warned drivers in early April of fake toll collection notices that were being sent to drivers across that state, eventually issuing a media warning and issuing pictures of a real toll notice, so that drivers would know how to spot an authentic invoice.

Gas Prices Take A Summer Dip, Especially In Midwest

The Cost Of Driving Gets Cheaper As Crude Oil Retreats From June Highs

Gas price trend for July 7, 2014The cost of a gallon of unleaded gas fell about two cents last week to settle at $3.68, according to the latest survey by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The nationwide average gas price was lead by a moderate decline in gas prices across the Midwest, where the average cost of fuel dropped almost 6¢ per gallon.

Retail gas pricing seemed to follow a decline in the price of crude oil, particularly West Texas Intermediate, although the fluctuations in both crude oil and gas prices, themselves, happened within such a close time span there is not likely a direct corollary. Crude peaked near the last week of June, but it has been coming down since. The cost of WTI on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) has fallen below $104 per barrel, and it has been flirting with the $103 level. Prices peaked at $106.77 per barrel June 25.

Regional Gas Prices Mixed Across The Country

For the rest of the country, the cost of gas took a summer dip or moved higher, depending upon where you live. For drivers on the West Coast, the cost of gas pushed up about a penny per gallon. The same happened across the Rocky Mountain region. New England drivers are paying about the same or slightly more this week than last, according to the E.I.A. survey.

The Lower Atlantic and Gulf Coast states enjoyed a dip in pricing of 3¢ and 2¢ per gallon, respectively. The Central Atlantic states, which includes the Carolinas, Viriginia and Maryland, prices dipped by only about a penny. In fact, the further north one traveled along the Atlantic Coast, the less likely gas prices were to have declined from last week’s retail pricing.

Urban Prices Much Higher Than Suburban Gas

Gas prices in Chicago on July 4, 2014

Above: The price of gas on July 4, inside Chicago’s famous Loop. Below: Gas prices at the Hinsdale Oasis on the Tri-State Tollway the same day. While higher than the Midwest regional average, regular unleaded was about 31¢ per gallon less than downtown Chicago.

Gas prices at the Hinsdale Oasis near Chicago on July 4, 2014

However, prices in some metropolitan areas were mixed or barely moved at all, according to spot surveys done by TurnpikeInfo.com during a highway tour the first week of July. For instance, prices in downtown Chicago remained the same from one survey period to the next, even though the price of gas in the metropolitan area declined by about 8¢ per gallon, according to the E.I.A. While we toured the Illinois toll roads, the cost of gasoline at a local station at on Congress Avenue, inside Chicago’s Loop, was $4.28 per gallon, well above the $3.87 average for the city. Meanwhile, along the Tri-State Tollway, at the Hinsdale Oasis, the Illinois equivalent of a service plaza, the price of gas was $3.97 per gallon for regular unleaded. The Hinsdale Oasis is still within the Chicago metro area.

That kind of pricing disparity is not uncommon across various metropolitan areas and smaller cities, whether in the Midwest or elsewhere. Observations made by TurnpikeInfo.com during the past 18 months show fuel prices in some cities across South Florida can range by as much as 30¢ per gallon over just two to three miles of real estate. The recent tour of the Midwest toll roads revealed the range to be approximately the same in Illinois. Prices in both regions tended to be much higher near urban cores and lower in the suburban areas.

Gas prices on Capital of Texas Hwy. on June 30, 2014

Gas prices adjacent to the Capital of Texas Highway, a toll road that connects Austin with its northern suburbs. Prices on June 30 were about 5% higher than the Gulf Coast average. Photo: Kristen Scallion.

The urban-versus-suburban price differences are not as dramatic in Texas, where the cost of gas along the Capital of Texas Highway, a Texas toll road, can run higher than the state average. Drivers near Austin were paying about $3.62 per gallon for regular unleaded on June, which was about 14¢ per gallon higher than the Gulf Coast average for that day. About one week later, in outlying Round Rock, the home of one of the Dell Computer campuses, the cost of fuel was about $3.45 per gallon the morning of July 8. Drivers in that suburban city were enjoying a fuel cost about a penny below the regional average, underscoring the variance between prices in the urban core and those in suburban and rural areas. Regardless of the region or state, surveys by TurnpikeInfo.com and its spotters show there is nearly always a significant disparity.

On-Highway Prices Closer To Regional Averages, But Still Higher Near Larger Cities

Regardless of urban pricing, the cost paid by drivers on the highway and the toll roads is what matters most, when traveling between cities. The E.I.A. price point for the Midwest, for the July 7 survey, shows the Midwest regional average gas price is $3.61 per gallon. During our tour, the price of gas in Illinois was about 11¢ per gallon higher, while most stations and truck stops along the roadways in Ohio and Indiana were charging between $3.52 and $3.65 per gallon. The Midwest regional average, as reported by the E.I.A. July 7, is $3.61 per gallon.

Truckers Get Slight Relief In Diesel Prices

The cost of a gallon of diesel fuel dipped by about a penny per gallon, at least on a nationwide basis. The nationwide average cost for diesel is now $3.91.

For most of the East Coast, however, the cost was relatively flat. In the Rocky Mountain States and the Gulf Coast, the cost of diesel declined enough to be noticeable. In California, truckers got no relief as the price of diesel remained at an average of $4.14 per gallon. Across much of the remaining West Coast, however, the price of diesel did drip about a penny per gallon.

Year On Year Gas Much Higher In Price

None of the past week’s decline in gas prices does anything to change the fact that 2014’s summer driving season is more expensive than 2013. For some areas, the change is scarcely noticeable, but such minuscule price moves are confined to the Rocky Mountain region. For most of the rest of America’s drivers, the cost of gas is between 16¢ and 22¢ higher than it was last year. Averaging a 19¢ per gallon price differential, that means the cost of the average fill-up, for a 15-gallon fuel tank, will be about $2.85 more than last year. However, the difference for truckers is significant, given the size of fuel tanks on most tractor-trailer rigs.

While year over year diesel prices up less than retail gasoline, the price is still about 9¢ per gallon higher than at this time last year. That means a truck with a 300-gallon fuel capacity is going to cost $27 to refuel. Most rigs get between 4 and 8 miles of travel for each gallon of fuel, according to Wikipedia.org.

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Average U.S. Gas Price Stays The Same, With A Catch

Editor’s Note: This week’s report is being filed from Chicago, where we are on the road for a video shoot of the toll roads across the Midwest. As a result, the report will be abbreviated.

Gas price trend for June 30, 2014The price of gas did not move much during the past week, according to the latest weekly survey from the U.S Energy Information Administration. In fact, on a nationwide basis, the average
price of gas did not move at all, remaining $3.70 per gallon. However, regional price fluctuations did impact consumers, particularly in California and across the
Midwest, where pricing volatility is the norm.

For the Midwest region, the price of gas dropped about 2¢ per gallon on the week, while in California, the price of a gallon of regular unleaded pushed upward by
3¢, dragging the broader West Coast region with it. For consumers in the Gulf Coast states, the price of gas dipped by about a penny, after coming close to the
$3.50 threshold.

Examined on an annual basis, however, the price of gas is significantly higher for most of us. Only drivers in the Rocky Mountain states have escaped the
punishing price increases that have impacted the rest of the nation. In fact, the cost of gas is about a penny lower than last year. That price decline may seem
trite, but it is significant when compared to other regions, where the cost of gas jumped dramatically.

For instance, in the Midwest, the gas prices are 28¢ per gallon higher this year, led by Ohio, where prices are about 39¢ higher than last summer. For the West
Coast, which includes California, the price of fuel is about 17¢ per gallon higher. Even on the Gulf Coast, where the cost of driving is typically the lowest in the
nation, retail gas prices are 17¢ per gallon higher. On a nationwide basis, the cost of fuel averages 21¢ more than at this time in 2013.

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New Look And Travel Features Coming To TurnpikeInfo.com

TurnpikeInfo.com new home page

The new home page of TurnpikeInfo.com 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 TurnpikeInfo.com has been largely completed. While there are some minor adjustments to be made, the new home of TurnpikeInfo.com 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 TurnpikeInfo.com 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 TurnpikeInfo.com 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 TurnpikeInfo.com

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 TurnpikeInfo.com, 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.

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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. TurnpikeInfo.com’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.

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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.

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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.

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