Fuels

Refiner Margin Swells, Retail Margin Shrinks

Pump price edges up three more cents

CAMARILLO, Calif. -- Crude oil prices were not in recent days the prime movers in the U.S. gasoline market. The OPEC meeting earlier this month did not bring a change in official output policy, and for that and other reasons, oil prices changed little in the past two weeks.

Lundberg Survey gas prices

But U.S. wholesale gasoline prices certainly did, and the hikes fed U.S. refiner margin on gasoline big time. But retailers on average passed little of that through to the street, costing them nearly half their margin.

Retail margin on regular grade gasoline so far this year is 3.36 cents per gallon skinnier than it was during record margin year 2014. On June 12, at 11.69 cents, it was nearly seven cents narrower than on May 29, according to the most recent Lundberg Survey of approximately 2,500 U.S. gas stations.

The latest margin snapshot reveals several markets in the red as street price hikes didn't match wholesale increases. It also reveals some stellar deltas of 20 to 40 cents.

Supply shakeouts around the country are smoothing out. Overall U.S. refining capacity is running at close to 95%. Lundberg Survey estimates that gasoline demand during the first half of 2015 is up an impressive 2.6%.

With demand barreling along and supply at high flow, retail prices will likely top out soon unless crude oil intervenes.

Quite possibly, refiners near term will lose some gasoline margin and retailers will regain, with the average street price exhibiting inertia.

For now, motorists can bask in an 82 cents discount in the average price below its year ago point, an incentive at street level.

Camarillo, Calif.-based Lundberg Survey Inc. is an independent market research company specializing in the U.S. petroleum marketing and related industries.

Click here for previous Lundberg Survey reports in CSP Daily News.

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