Pump Prices Rise; West Coast Gains not as Significant as other Regions

PORTLAND, Ore., – This is the first time since early June that the national gas price average jumped more than a nickel in just a few days, driven by the previous weekend’s attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. For the week, the national average for regular shoots up seven cents to $2.66 a gallon. The Oregon average adds two cents to $3.07.

The attacks drove crude oil prices dramatically higher early last week, with West Texas Intermediate rocketing up $10 per barrel to nearly $64 per barrel. Gasoline stations reacted just as swiftly. In some markets, retail prices shot up by as much as 25 cents a gallon, pushing the national average up six cents overnight last Tuesday. However, by the end of the week, crude oil dropped down to $58/bbl and gas prices started to stabilize as reports indicated that Saudi facilities should be fully operational by the end of September.

“Pump price increases were less dramatic here on the West Coast than in other parts of the country, and the downward movement in crude oil prices should help stabilize retail gas prices. Still, expect some fluctuation in prices through the next couple weeks,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho. “If Saudi Arabian crude production does return to full capacity soon, any price spikes are likely to be temporary.”

Falling demand in the U.S. should also help to send pump prices lower. In its latest report, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) measured U.S. demand at 8.9 million b/d, which is a substantial 900,000 b/d drop from the previous week and a low reading not seen since February. The decrease in demand amid the spike in crude oil prices could help to keep gas price fluctuations more moderate through the end of the month.

Oregon is one of 49 states and the District of Columbia where prices are higher now than a week ago. The biggest jump is in Kentucky (+14 cents). Rhode Island (-1/2 cent) is the only state with a week-over-week drop. This week there are five states with an average above $3 a gallon, same as a week ago.

Oregon is one of 33 states with higher prices now than a month ago. The national average is six cents more and the Oregon average is one cent more than a month ago. This is the 33rd-largest monthly increase in the nation. Colorado (+18 cents) has the largest month-over-month increase. Connecticut (-8 cents) has the largest month-over-month decline.

Oregon is one of 48 states and the District of Columbia where drivers are paying less than a year ago. The national average is 20 cents less and the Oregon average is 19 cents less than a year ago. Idaho (-43 cents) has the largest year-over-year drop. California (+9 cents) and Arizona (+2 cents) are the only states with year-over-year increases.

The West Coast continues to have the highest pump prices in the nation with all of the region’s states landing on the top 10 most expensive list.

Rank Region Price on 9/24/19
1 California $3.75
2 Hawaii $3.68
3 Washington $3.21
4 Nevada $3.15
5 Oregon $3.07
6 Alaska $2.98
7 Arizona $2.90
8 Illinois $2.81
9 Utah $2.81
10 Pennsylvania $2.81

For the first time in six weeks, California bumps Hawaii out of the top spot. Washington, Nevada, Oregon, Alaska and Arizona round out the top seven. Oregon is fifth most expensive for the 10th week in a row.

All state averages in the region have increased on the week. California (+10 cents) saw the largest increase in the region, followed by Arizona (+6 cents) and Nevada (+5 cents).

The EIA’s recent report for the week ending on September 13, showed that total West Coast motor gasoline stocks decreased by 133,000 bbl to 28.6 million bbl. This level is approximately 340,000 bbl lower than in mid-September 2018. Amid rising oil costs, shrinking stocks put additional pressure on prices as they spiked last week. Motorists in the region will likely see prices continue to stay high this week as the market continues to adjust to higher crude prices.

 

Oil market dynamics

Crude oil prices soared last week, following news of attacks on two crude oil facilities in Saudi Arabia on September 14. On Monday, September 16, the first full day of trading after the attack, WTI crude oil prices experienced the largest single day price increase since August 21, 2008 and June 29, 2012, respectively, according to EIA. On Tuesday, Saudi Aramco reported that it was producing 2 million b/d and that its entire output capacity will be fully restored by the end of September. Additionally, Saudi Aramco stated that crude oil exports to customers would continue by drawing on existing inventories and offering additional crude oil production from other fields. Tanker loading estimates from third-party data sources indicate that loadings at two Saudi Arabian export facilities were restored to the pre-attack levels – based on analysis by EIA. These efforts have helped crude prices to stabilize, and they are expected to continue stabilizing this week.

In related news last week, EIA reported that total domestic crude inventories increased by 1.1 million bbl last week. They currently sit at 417.1 million bbl, which is 23 million bbl higher than where they were last year at this time.

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI decreased by four cents to settle at $58.09. At the close of Monday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI gained 55 cents to close at $58.64. Today crude is trading around $58, compared to $60 a week ago. Crude prices are up about seven percent in the last month and are about $12 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.

Diesel

For the week, the national average jumps seven cents to $3.01 a gallon. Oregon’s average adds three cents to $3.15. A year ago the national average for diesel was $3.19 and the Oregon average was $3.38.

 

Find current fuel prices at GasPrices.AAA.com.

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 Find local news releases at https://www.oregon.aaa.com/category/news-releases/

Fuel prices are updated daily at AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge at AAA Gas Prices. For more info go www.AAA.com. AAA Oregon/Idaho provides more than 810,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services, and is an affiliate of AAA National, serving more than 59 million motorists in North America.