Gas Prices

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Gas prices across the U.S. slipped upward about a penny per gallon during the recent week, according to the latest survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The EIA report shows the average price of a gallon of unleaded gas is now about $3.36 per gallon, although many areas are enjoying substantially lower prices, particularly the Gulf Coast states, where the price of gas is about $3.12 per gallon.

The slight uptick in prices goes against the longer-term seasonal trend of lower prices, overall, for most U.S. drivers, and it is not expected to continue, according to a report this week in USA Today. That trend is being driven largely by lower futures prices, which fell below $100 per gallon this week.

Futures prices have been slipping considerably in recent weeks, although periodic price disruptions have caused spikes in futures trades, particularly where it concerns North African and Middle Eastern supplies. But the production of oil elsewhere, particularly in the United States, has helped offset those scares. Refineries are also now producing cheaper grades of gasoline for winter driving, which also contributes to the lower cost of fuel.

For drivers nationwide, the price of gas did, in fact, fall in a number of regions during the past week, including the West Coast and California, the Rocky Mountain states and for drivers in the Central and Lower Atlantic states. The cost of fuel dipped by about 4¢ per gallon across the West Coast, and about 3¢ per gallon across the Rocky Mountain states and New England, regions where the price of gasoline is still hoveing closer to $3.50 per gallon.

For truckers and other drivers of diesel-powered vehicles, the price of fuel was basically flat during the past week. The average U.S. price of diesel fuel was flat this past week, with some regions showing a penny per gallon increase in prices and others showing a dip of a penny. Overall, the average price of diesel is about $3.89 per gallon, which is identical to last week.

Year over year prices continue to provide a longer-term view that augurs great news for drivers in the weeks to come. Some analysits believe the price of gasoline is likely to continue falling through the winter months, driving the price of gas to the lowest levels drivers have enjoyed since 2010. However, that prediction could prove folly if a frigid prediction by Farmer’s Almanac proves true.

Farmer’s Alamanac predicts an especially frigid and wet winter season in the coming months, which means heating oil and natural gas supplies are likely to be strained under heavy demand. If home heating oil demand spikes, the prices in related, broader energy markets could come under pressure to increase.


With Government Reopened, We Report New Gas Price Data

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The cost of gas is not likely to be a mystery to anyone who is filling up their tank, but official reports from the Energy Information Agency about gas prices were delayed this week due to the government shutdown. After congressional Democrats and Republicans came to an agreement Wednesday night to reopen govenment, the EIA followed the next day with its weekly gas price survey.

The price of a gallon of regular unleaded was flat across the Midwest and Lower Atlantic states, but prices were mostly down in every other region. The average price of a gallon of gas dropped by about a penny, on a nationwide basis, but there were price declines of as much as 5¢ per gallon, particularly across New England, the Rocky Mountain West and the broader West  Coast region.

The price of diesel fuel also fell during the week, with the average price of a gallon of diesel down by about a penny, although prices in the Midwest and Rockies went down by as much as 3¢ per gallon. Truckers and other diesel car drivers are paying, on average, about $3.88 per gallon.

The year over year gas price comparison continues to show a remarkable trend. In some places, paricularly on the West Coast, the price of a gallon of gas is down by as much as 71¢ compared to this time last year. The average among us is paying about 47¢ per gallon less for fuel this year. Diesel prices are down about 26¢ per gallon, when compared with October 2012 levels.


The EIA sent this email to notify members of the media the regular energy reports, including the weekly gas price survey, would not be published until the government shutdown ended.

This week’s report was delayed as a result of the U.S. government shutdown. While the EIA weekly report was delivered October 7, after the shutdown was already in effect, appropriations for continued operations did not become exhausted until a few days later. The Energy Information Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Energy, sent an email to media October 12 stating, “EIA is closed due to a lapse in appropriations.  EIA will not update its website until the agency reopens.”

The consequence was the Monday evening reports did not get compiled or posted as usual. The EIA’s weekly pricing surveys are usually released during the evening every Monday. typically posts the reports, with analysis, late Monday night or early Tuesday.

This week’s report was delayed until government reopened, which happened October 17.


Government Shutdown May Help Gas Prices, But At What Cost?

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The price of gasoline continued falling across every region of the United States this past week, with the price of a gallon of unleaded fuel falling an average of 6¢ per gallon, on a nationwide level, to $3.37. The price data are included in this week’s survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Various regions had differing levels of price change, which is normal. What is somewhat unusual is the relative equanimity found in those price declines, from one region to the next. Drivers on the West Coast, not including California, found the price of gas down by about 4¢ per gallon, while the largest price declines came in the Midwest, where the cost for fuel dipped by about 7¢.

The drop in prices has been welcome relief for drivers. Most of the gas prices across the U.S. spiked in June and July. Another spate of price increases happened during mid and late August, all against the backdrop of supply problems in Libya and the potential for a military showdown in Syria. The focus of the next potential price disruption is already being seen in Egypt and Libya, this in the wake of a pair of covert operations in Africa over the weekend. U.S. special forces captured a wanted Qaeda leader in Libya, while another warlord was being sought in Somalia.

Oil futures graphic

Gas prices could be chained upward pressures due to geopolitical instability, even though domestic politics should bring down consumer demand and prices at the pump. Graphic:

Continued political unrest in Egypt, combined with the military operation in Libya, have caused futures traders to fear supply disruptions in those areas. Crude oil futures have been going back up in recent days, this after trading lower through most of September.

Sans the geopolitical instability in the Middle East, crude oil might be heading lower, this over fears of lower consumer demand in the face of a lingering government shutdown. Supplies from the North Sea have, at least, kept some price control on crude futures. North Sea crude is expected to reach peak supply levels in November.

Even amid the potential for short-term price increases, the longer-term trend has been one of extraordinary price declines. Overall, U.S. gas prices are down nearly 13% from their levels at this time last year. The average price of a gallon of uneaded, in early October 2012, was about $3.86.

Diesel car drivers and truckers are also paying less, both year over year and week over week. The average price of a gallon of diesel fell by 2¢ in most regions, with prices in the Central Atlantic and West Coast areas down by about 3¢.


Cost To Drive Takes A Dive In September

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The price of a gallon of gasoline fell once again during the past week, with the average U.S.  price falling another 7¢ during the last week of September, according to the latest gas price survey from the Energy Information Administration. The EIA report was released Monday,  before the U.S. government shutdown took effect at midnight. The report shows the price of gas was down in all regions of the United States, with drivers in the Midwestern U.S. enjoying the biggest price breaks. On average, Midwest fuel is down by nearly 11¢ per gallon in most places, which brings additional relief to a region stricken by unusually high prices during the summer.

September 2013 Gas Price Comparison

Gas finally fell nearly consistently through September, which was good news following the volatile price market in August.

The price of gas dropped an average of 18¢ per gallon, overall, in the United States during September, ending the summer in exactly the opposite fashion to the start of the season, when supply issues and refinery problems pushed prices higher. The price of regular unleaded started September around $3.61 per gallon, which was the U.S. average on September 2. The month closed with the price down to only $3.43 per gallon, but prices were much lower across the Lower Atlantic and Midwest states. For the latter two regions, the price of fuel plunged an average of 30¢ per gallon, or just about 9-percent.

California drivers are not getting much gas price relief, however. The price of fuels in California is up for the month of September, which dragged the entire West Coast average higher for the month. When one takes California out of the equation, the price of gasoline on the West Coast still only declined by about a nickel per gallon, far less than most other regions. The Rocky Mountain states fared only slightly better, with the cost of a gallon of gas dipping by about 8¢ per gallon, significantly less than the U.S. average and only about 25% of the decline enjoyed by many drivers in the nation’s mid-section.

For truckers, the price of gas was also down this week, according to the EIA survey report. The average price of a gallon of diesel was down by about 3¢ per gallon in nearly all regions, except the Rocky Mountain states, where the price dropped by only about a penny in most areas. The cost of operating a tractor-trailor rig is lower, however, than at this time last year.

Nationwide, the cost of a  gallon of diesel is down by about 16¢ from the 2012 level, with prices dopwn by as much as a quarter per gallon on the West Coast and nearly 30¢ per gallon in the Rocky Mountain states.


Florida's Turnpike construction at the interchange with I-595, in Fort Lauderdale

Major Turnpike Construction Projects Greet Florida’s Seasonal Visitors

Orlando and Fort Lauderdale Interchanges Undergoing Major Overhauls As Tourist Season Welcomes First Travelers

This year’s increase in seasonal tourism traffic may be accompanied by an increase in driver frustration as a pair of major road reconstruction projects impact upon turnpike interchanges in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. The Florida Department of Transportation has been overhauling the I-595 corridor through Fort Lauderdale, Davie, Plantation and Sunrise since approximately November 2010. The project includes a complete reworking of the interchange with Florida’s Turnpike, with the bulk of construction work scheduled to be completed by March 2014, although work is currently ahead of schedule, according to a project construction chart.

Meanwhile, lane additions and other construction has just begun in Orlando, where Florida’s Turnpike meets with I-4, just south of the East-West Expressway. The $10.2-million project at the Turnpike I-4 interchange began September 12, and it will not be completed until the fall of 2014, although a more specific date has not been provided.

Drivers making their way through Orlando or traveling there as a destination will find exit and entrance ramps to I-4 being widened and realigned to handle more capacity. The construction effort also seeks to help increase capacity for truckers who make use of the interchange to access the Turkey Lake Service Plaza. “The realignment of the southbound exit ramp improves traffic flow on the connector road to the Tandem Truck Stagin Lot located behind the northbound toll plaza building,” a DOT news release read. “The project includes an additional heavy truck turnaround at the south end of the Turkey Lake Service Plaza and new signage.”

I-595 construction near Florida's Turnpike

Construction of the Florida’s Turnpike I-595 Interchange in the Fort Lauderdale-Davie area is within months of completion. Additional constructions delays may affect seasonal travelers, nonetheless.

While the spate of lane closures and roadway detours is just beginning for Orlando, they are nearly completed for Fort Lauderdale’s Turnpike I-595 interchange. Overnight lane closures on the Turnpike, between I-595 and Sunrise Boulevard, were expected to be completed by the end of the week, this week. Ramp closures from State Road 84 and I-595 to the Turnpike were also expected to persist for a few more overnight hours, wrapping by September 27, according to a special website set up by Florida DOT to provide construction updates.

Meanwhile, toll lanes continue to be closed on an intermittent basis in Miami-Dade County, where the all-electronic tolling booths are being built to replace the once-staffed toll collection booths. The closure of lanes chokes the traffic flow into the Golden Glades Interchange, which connects the Florida’s Turnpike with I-95 and the Palmetto Expressway (SR 826). The interchange also allows drivers to exit to U.S. 441 and NE 167th Street in North Miami Beach.

The toll lane closures are expected to end by January 2014, around the start of peak seasonal tourism in Florida, but the short term outlook is one of slow traffic going into the Golden Glades. Only four toll lanes are currently open for northbound traffic leaving Miami, and five lanes are currently opened for southbound traffic making its way from Broward County into Miami-Dade.

The widening of the Turnpike Extension in Miami-Dade County is also now underway, having broken ground in August 2013. The southern stretch of the Homestead Extension of the Turnpike will be widened to a minimum of six travel lanes in some areas, and as many as 10 travel lanes in other segments. The construction will affect the areas through Goulds and Cutler Ridge, from around SW 216th Street, north to Eureka Drive, which is also SW 184th Street.

The project, which is expected to cost about $41-million, will take about three years to complete.

Gas Prices Tumble As Autumn Officially Begins

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Gas prices have taken a tumble in recent days as the fall driving season sets in and concerns about the situation in Syria have been met with potential détente, and further supplanted by worries about a possible government shutdown October 1. The average price of a gallon of unleaded gas fell by more than a nickel during the past week, according to the latest survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The EIA’s weekly report shows the biggest drop in gas prices came in the Central and Lower Atlantic states, where prices were down by about 8¢ per gallon. The lowest price declines were found on the West Coast, where the average cost of a gallon of gas was flat. In some areas, the cost of gas did edge downward about a penny.

For truckers and drivers of other diesel cars, the price of fuel was also down. The average price of diesel fuel was off by about 3¢ per gallon during the past week, although prices in the Rocky Mountain region were up slightly. Drivers across the West Coast enjoyed a bigger price break, with diesel prices declining about 4¢ per gallon.

Gas prices explained

EIA’s monthly gas price breakdown shows how much is spent for crude, refining, advertising and taxes.

The reduction in tensions over Syria’s use of chemical weapons has helped futures markets recover from a spike in prices a few weeks ago, which contributed to investors’ fears about possible supply shortages. Additional worries about refinery capacity in Libya and Iraq have been assuaged by new evidence of rising oil supplies from those regions. Even so, oil futures for November delivery spiked late in the day Tuesday after weak trading through most of the day. However, futures prices were well short of their August highs, when the two month delivery price for Brent was up to about $117 per barrel. Currently, the price is about $108 per barrel.

U.S. crude oil, also known as West Texas Intermediate, has been falling for the past several sessions and could close below $100 within a week, if current declines persists. WTI peaked at the beginning of September, at $109.23 per barrel on September 6. WTI closed Tuesday at $103.37.


Summer Is Over, And Gas Prices Are Retreating

Gas price sign in Pompano Beach, Florida

The price of gas is falling again, but supply problems in Libya and the situation in Syria could still send prices higher again. This sign shows prices in Pompano Beach, Florida, on September 16.

Gas prices have begun their post-summer retreat, helped along by recently-reduced tensions in the Middle East, notably over the Syrian chemical weapons crisis. The price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas fell by four-cents during the past week, according to the latest survey of the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The cost of driving fell much more across the Lower Atlantic and Gulf Coast regions, where the average price of gas dipped by twice the national average. Gas prices were also off by almost 9-cents per gallon for Midwestern drivers.

However, the current pricing trend was not the same for drivers across the West Coast and, particularly, motorists in California. In fact, West Coast gas prices were up more than a dime per gallon, largely due to a spike in prices in the Golden State. Minus the California gas price situation, West Coast fuel prices were still up by about two-cents per gallon.

Meanwhile, the cost of driving a rig has finally stabilized a bit, this after several weeks of pricing increases that made life for truckers more expensive. The price of a gallon of diesel fuel slipped by about a penny per gallon across nearly all regions. However, the Rocky Mountain states bore witness to exactly the opposite trend, where the price of a gallon of diesel is up by about a penny. In California, diesel prices were flat to slightly higher.

The EIA has released a statement during the past week which revealed a growing disparity between the price of crude oil and the Standard and Poor’s equity index. The EIA tracks the correlation between Brent Light Sweet Crude and the equity markets as a way to determine whether consumer prices are generally in line with supply and demand. According to the report, the fears of supply disruptions as a result of problems in Syria continued to weigh on the price of oil futures. Real supply problems in Libya are expected to grow throught the end of September. While the fears of a Syrian-caused oil-supply disruption have been assuaged in the wake of a new diplomatic agreement over Syrian chemical weapons, the Libyan oil supply problems are likely to weigh on oil futures prices, according to the EIA. That could drive prices back up toward the end of September, according to the report.

EIA Equity Market Chart

60-day rolling averages, which show the relation between oil futures prices and equity markets. When supply fears rise, there is a break in the corollary between futures and equity markets.

Meanwhile, overall gasoline prices continue to sit well below their 2012 levels. The average price of a gallon of unleaded gas, in the U.S., is about 33¢ below the levels at this time last year. Diesel prices are about 16¢ per gallon less that at this time in 2012.


As Summer Drivers Leave The Road, Gas Prices Dip

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The price of gas took a moment to retreat from late summer highs during the past week, according to the latest survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The EIA’s weekly gas price survey shows the average price of a gallon of unleaded gas dropped by about two cents per gallon, although bigger price declines were enjoyed by the hard-hit Midwestern States and their commuters. Higher prices hit the Rocky Mountain states and the West Coast, although California gas prices are the primary reason for the upswing in fuel costs in the Far West.

The drop in gas prices is likely due to a pair of factors. One is the summer driving season has  come to an end, with parents in nearly all states now home for the back-to-school rush. The other component of the retreating fuel prices is the drop in oil futures. Futures prices spiked around September 3, but they have been declining since September 4, and aside from a momentary high point on Monday, WTI futures, Brent crude and natural gas futures all are experiencing declining prices. As oil futures prices decline, prices sometimes relax quickly at the pump; although, typically there is a greater lag time experienced when futures decline, versus the affected price at the pump. Nonetheless, the lower demand for gasoline, especially for summer travlers, coupled with the past week’s drop in oil futures, could lead to a stablization of gas prices, if not further declines.

Meanwhile, truckers and other drivers of dielel cars found their prices mostly flat to slightly higher during the past week. The average U.S. price of diesel was unchanged last week, but prices on the West Coast and in New England were up. Prices for truckers in the Midwest were down, however.

Gas price trends through September 2013

Year over year, gas prices are down considerably.

Overall, drivers enjoying a much lighter impact from gasoline purchases on their wallets. The year over year numbers are nearly stellar in most regions. The average motorist will notice the price of gas is down by over 25¢ per gallon since this time last year, despite a major spike in prices that affected most of us earlier in 2013. The current unleaded cost of $3.59 per gallon is well off 2012’s figure, which was $3.85. Unfortunately, however, the price of gas for drivers in California and the West Coast still averages near $3.80 per gallon at the moment, but that number is down from nearly $4.10 per gallon, on average, for the start of school in 2012.

For truckers, the news is nearly as good, with the average trucker on the U.S. East Coast paying about 15¢ less for a gallon of diesel this year; drivers in California and the West Coast are enjoying twice the price savings in 2013, with about 30¢ per gallon decline in diesel prices versus this time last year.


Gas Prices Keep Rising As Summer Winds Down

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Gasoline prices continued their upward march as the summer driving season wound down with the Labor Day Holiday. The weekly gas price survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the release of which was delayed this week because of the holiday, shows the average price of a gallon of unleaded gasoline in the U.S. has gone up another six-cents per gallon, setting over the $3.60 mark for the first time in several weeks.

Prices have been under tremendous pressure as crude oil futures have skyrocketed in price lately, largely on fears of instability in the Middle East, particularly the situation in Syria. While gas price increase varied widely by region, most drivers from New York Metro to the Midwest paid between five and 10 cents per gallon more for gas during the past week, compared with the weeks immediately preceeding the Labor Day weekend. Drivers in New England and the West Coast states enjoyed lower price increases or, in the case of Washington and Oregon, price declines.

Diesel fuel pump icon

Weekly diesel price survey

Meanwhile, the price of diesel fuel has jumped considerably since last week, with some drivers paying about a penny per gallon more, as in the Rocky Mountain States, and truckers across the Midwest paying about a dime per gallon more for diesel.

Despite the unreast overseas and fears of a possible colder-than-usual winter season ahead, fuel prices are down considerably from just a year ago. The U.S. average price for a gallon of regular gas is down nearly a quarter, while the price of diesel is about 15¢ per gallon less than at this time in 2012.


As Predicted By, Gas Prices Start Late-Summer Increase

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The price of gasoline has begun to slip upward, as predicted by in our last story about the cost of fuels. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s weekly gas price survey shows gasoline prices fell in New England and across the West Coast of the United States, but the cost of driving increased for nearly everyone else. The average price of a gallon of gas is up about a penny over last week, but some areas, particularly the Midwest, were hit with a 2¢ to 3¢ increase in gas prices. The survey tracks the average regional cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline.

The news for truckers, however, was even worse. The cost of a gallon of diesel fuel was up in every region of the U.S., and the potential for an autumn spike in prices looms with continued unrest in the oil futures markets. The cost of diesel hit a U.S. average of $3.91 per gallon this week, although prices in California and across the West Coast are much higher. In some areas, the average diesel cost is hovering around $4.16 per gallon.

Wikipedia image: U.S. warships fire cruise missles.

U.S. officials have hinted to news media a missle attack against Syria could come as early as Thursday, adding to uncertainty about gas prices going into the fall season.

The Syria situation has thrown new waves of jitters into the oil futures markets, which had already been surging for October deliveries. The price of Brent and West Texas Intermediate futures both spiked amid news of possible chemical weapons use in the lengthy Syrian civil war, coupled with continued unrest in Egypt that could threaten shipping lanes in the Red Sea, The Gulf of Suez, the Mediterranean Sea and the Suez Canal that connects them.

The potential of a U.S. missle strike loomed Tuesday morning, with some officials at the Obama Administration telling NBC news a military action could come as early as Thursday. U.S. warships and aircraft carriers in the region have already been repositioned for such an attack.

Despite the unrest and current pricing trends, overall fuel prices are still off their highs of the year, and prices are considerably lower than at this time in 2012. The price of gasoline is anywhere from 20¢ to 30¢ per gallon less than last year, and diesel prices are lower by about the same amount. Whether the year over year price break remains intact, however, will depend largely on futures markets and investors’ fears about supply going into the fall and winter seasons.

Farmers’ Almanac is been cited by numerous media in the past 24 hours, after that publication predicted a bitterly cold and snowy winter across the U.S. That kind of forecast could cause investors to bid higher on oil futures, with the expectation of high demands for heating oil, propane, kerosene and natural gas.