Gasoline Prices Ease Off

Growing storage, refinery utilization help relieve retail increase

gas prices

WASHINGTON and BOSTON -- For the first time in almost two months, the national retail average for gasoline has declined.

According to AAA, the national average at the start of this week dropped about 1 cent per gallon (CPG) to $2.04. This represents a 35-CPG discount from this same date a year ago, and the lowest price for the date since 2009. The retail averages in 48 states were off more than 25 CPG year over year, with Alaska (down 67 CPG), Oregon (down 52 CPG) and Hawaii (down 49 CPG) seeing the greatest discounts.

Month over month, the national retail average is 13 CPG higher, having risen 28 of the past 35 days. It has remained above $2 per gallon for 19 consecutive days.

AAA expects prices to continue to bump around somewhat as summer-blend gasoline transitions into terminals, but it also sees stabilizing forces ahead. Refineries’ utilization rates are growing as spring maintenance ends, as reflected in the 1.4-million-barrel rise in gasoline inventories recently reported by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). In California, ExxonMobil has restarted its Torrance, Calif., refinery, which should help ease prices in that state.

California had the highest state retail average at the start of this week, or $2.77 per gallon. Hawaii was the second state above the $2.50-per-gallon mark, with a $2.61 average. The rest of the top five were Nevada at $2.44 per gallon, Washington at $2.29 and Alaska at $2.27.

The lowest averages were in Missouri at $1.80 per gallon and Oklahoma at $1.82. In fact, 21 states had retail averages below $2 per gallon, AAA reported.

Month over month, retail averages jumped by double digits in 29 states and Washington, D.C., led by Arizona (up 44 CPG), Nevada (up 28 CPG) and Utah (up 27 CPG). Only two states—Minnesota and Missouri, off 7 CPG and 5 CPG, respectively—experienced declines.

According to Boston-based GasBuddy, the retail averages in 32 states fell week over week, led by Michigan’s 10-CPG decline. Missouri (down 7 CPG) and Kentucky (down 6 CPG) saw the next greatest declines.

The retail average rose in 14 states week over week, including eight in the Northeast. However, a western state had the biggest week-over-week increase: Utah’s retail average jumped 11 CPG.

There was no week-over-week change to the retail averages in Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii and Washington.