West Coast Gasoline Stocks Fall for Fifth Consecutive Week
PORTLAND, Ore., – Gasoline stocks continue to tighten nationwide and especially here on the West Coast, putting upward pressure on prices. For the week, the national average adds two cents to $2.85 a gallon. The Oregon average gains six cents to $3.37. Both averages are at their highest prices since last October.
“Drivers on the West Coast are really feeling the pain due to refinery outages. At least six refineries in this region have had operational issues over the past several weeks and price volatility will continue until refinery maintenance wraps up,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho. California is especially hard hit with an average of $4.03 a gallon and remains the only state with an average at or above $4 a gallon. Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Alaska, Arizona and Pennsylvania have averages at or above $3 a gallon.
Oregon is one of 39 states and the District of Columbia where prices are higher now than a week ago. Oregon has the 16th-largest weekly jump in the country. Utah (+18 cents) and Idaho (+15 cents) have the largest week-over-week increases while Oklahoma (+1 cent) has the smallest. Prices decreased in 10 states with Florida (-5 cents) seeing the largest decline. Prices are flat in Mississippi.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have higher prices now than a month ago. The national average is 23 cents more and the Oregon average is 43 cents more than a month ago. This is the seventh-largest monthly increase in the country. California (+57 cents) has the largest month-over-month jump, Utah (+53 cents) is second and Idaho (+48 cents) is third. Florida (+11 cents) has the smallest monthly increase.
Pump prices in the West Coast region are the highest in the nation, with all of the region’s states landing on the top 10 most expensive list. California tops the list for the fifth consecutive week with Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Alaska and Arizona rounding out the top seven. Oregon is fourth most expensive for the sixth week in a row. As mentioned above, California is the only state with an average at or above $4 a gallon. All prices in the region have increased on the week.
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The EIA’s recent weekly report, for the week ending on April 12, showed that West Coast gasoline stocks fell for a fifth consecutive week by nearly 800,000 bbl from the previous week and now sit at 28.2 million bbl. OPIS reported at least six out of 10 refineries (four in Southern California and two in Northern California) experienced operational issues in the past few weeks. These issues have resulted in refinery utilization rates dropping below 80% for the first time in a little more than two years. If ongoing planned and unplanned refinery maintenance continues throughout the region, the West Coast may see continued price volatility and shrinking gasoline stocks.
The nation’s cheapest markets are Alabama ($2.50) and Mississippi ($2.52). For the 10th week in a row, no states have an average below $2 a gallon.
Oregon is one of 40 states and the District of Columbia where drivers are paying more than a year ago to fill up. The national average is eight cents more and the Oregon average is 20 cents more than a year ago, which is the fourth-largest yearly increase in the country. California (+45 cents) and Arizona (+26 cents) have the greatest year-over-year increases. Utah (-17 cents) and Idaho (-10 cents) have the largest year-over-year decreases.
Oil Market Dynamics
Crude oil prices have been climbing for five weeks and moved higher to start this week on reports that the U.S. State Department plans to end the use of waivers for countries to import oil from Iran in an attempt to end all oil exports from that country. In November of last year, the U.S. reimposed sanctions on exports of Iranian oil, however, waivers were granted to allow some countries to continue making limited oil purchases from Iran for six months. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the administration will not renew sanctions waivers for the countries when they expire on May 2. Decreases in Iranian oil exports would tighten the supply in the global market, which has already seen decreases as a result of the U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, along with OPEC’s reduced production. Secretary Pompeo also stated that he has “had extensive and productive discussions with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other major producers to ease this transition and ensure sufficient supply. This, in addition to increasing U.S. production, underscores our confidence that energy markets will remain well supplied.”
EIA data released last week reported total U.S. crude oil stockpiles dropped by 1.4 million bbl, to 455.2 million bbl. Crude imports to the U.S. also slowed. The most recent week’s import rate of 5.992 million b/d is almost 2 million b/d lower than the same week last year. EIA also reported that total U.S. gasoline inventories dropped by 1.2 million barrels
Should U.S. crude oil and gasoline stocks continue to drop and supply tighten, drivers could see gas prices continue to rise.
Due to Good Friday observance, markets were closed, but at the end of Thursday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased 24 cents to settle at $64.00. At the close of Monday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI added $1.70 to close at $65.70. Today crude is trading around $66, compared to $64 a week ago. Crude prices are up about 12 percent in the last month and are about $3 per barrel less than a year ago.
Drivers can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
For the week, the national average adds a penny to $3.08 a gallon. Oregon’s average gains three cents to $3.26. A year ago the national average for diesel was $3.04 and the Oregon average was $3.29.
Find current fuel prices at GasPrices.AAA.com.
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