CAMARILLO, Calif. -- The timing of wholesale gasoline's rapid catchup with higher crude oil prices, after refiners delayed much wholesale's passthrough for weeks, has clobbered the country's gasoline retailers. The U.S. average margin on regular gasoline has been cut by two-thirds, from 16.75 cents per gallon two weeks ago to just 5.67 cents, according to the most recent Lundberg Survey of approximately 2,500 U.S. gas stations.
Nationally over the past two weeks, retail jumped 13.18 cents per gallon while wholesale spurted up 24.07 cents, much of it during just the past two days. On April 24 there are many markets where the margin on regular is in the red, and this will likely be remedied very quickly.
It is mostly higher crude oil prices that pulled wholesale gasoline up.
Continued phase-in of higher-cost, lower-vapor-pressure gasoline for regulatory compliance with summer-blend specs also made a contribution.
Even if crude oil prices do not rise further, the pressure is on for retail margin to regain a few cents, and for retail price to manifest it.
U.S. refiners are running capacity at a very good clip, above 91%.
Gasoline demand is happy and healthy, growing both seasonally and year on year. The current price is an encouraging $1.11 per gallon below its year-ago point.
Camarillo, Calif.-based Lundberg Survey Inc. is an independent market research company specializing in the U.S. petroleum marketing and related industries.
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