Analysis by Dr. Nancy Yamaguchi
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly data on diesel and gasoline retail prices for the week ended April 22, 2019. Gasoline and diesel prices continued to rise, though at a more modest pace than in the prior week. On a national average basis, retail prices for gasoline rose by 1.3 cents/gallon. There are significant regional variations in gasoline prices, caused by the switch to summer grades, refinery issues, and the Midwest flooding, which has disrupted ethanol supply and transportation. Retail diesel prices rose by 2.9 cents/gallon. National average prices for gasoline are 4.3 cents/gallon above where they were in the same week one year ago. National average prices for diesel are 1.4 cents/gallon above their levels for the same week last year.
During the week ended April 18, 2019, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures prices rose by $1.79/b (2.8%.) Gasoline futures prices jumped by 10.02 cents/gallon (4.9%.) Diesel futures prices rose by 3.33 cents/gallon (1.6%.) Although the relationship between futures market prices and retail prices is not immediate and one-for-one, the most recent trend in futures prices suggests that gasoline and diesel prices will continue to rise in the coming week.
For the current week ended April 22, retail diesel prices rose by 2.9 cents to arrive at an average price of $3.147/gallon. Between mid-October and late-January, retail diesel prices fell for fourteen consecutive weeks. During those fourteen weeks, the price decline totaled 42.9 cents/gallon. From February through mid-April, diesel prices have crept back up by 18.2 cents/gallon. For the current week ended April 22nd, diesel prices rose in all PADDs. The national average price was 1.4 cents/gallon above its level of last year.
In the East Coast PADD 1, diesel prices rose by 2.1 cents/gallon to reach an average price of $3.174/gallon. Within PADD 1, New England prices increased by 1.2 cents to average $3.217/gallon. Central Atlantic diesel prices rose by 2.8 cents to average $3.370/gallon. Lower Atlantic prices rose by 1.8 cents/gallon to reach an average price of $3.033/gallon. PADD 1 prices were 3.2 cents/gallon above their prices for the same week last year.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail diesel prices rose by 3.2 cents to average $3.042/gallon. Prices were 0.5 cents/gallon below their level for the same week last year.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3, retail diesel prices rose by 1.8 cents to average $2.917/gallon. PADD 3 typically has the lowest diesel prices, and it is the only PADD where retail diesel prices are still below the $3/gallon mark. Prices were 1.9 cents lower than for the same week in the previous year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, retail diesel prices rose by 6.1 cents to reach an average of $3.143/gallon. This was the largest price increase among the PADDs. PADD 4 prices were 3.8 cents lower than for the same week in the prior year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail diesel prices rose by 4.5 cents to average $3.696/gallon. PADD 5 prices were 6.8 cents above their level from last year. Prices excluding California rose by 5.7 cents to arrive at an average of $3.309/gallon. This price was 5.7 cents below the retail price for the same week last year. California diesel prices increased by 3.6 cents to arrive at an average price of $4.003/gallon. California is the only market for which prices have risen above $4/gallon. California diesel prices are 18.8 cents higher than they were at the same week last year.
U.S. retail gasoline prices rose by 1.3 cents to average $2.841/gallon during the week ended April 22nd. Prices rose in PADDs 1, 4 and 5, while they eased in PADDs 2 and 3. Until two weeks ago, the national average price had been below last year’s levels. Retail prices for the current week are 4.3 cents per gallon higher than they were one year ago. Gasoline prices hit a peak of $2.903/gallon during the week ended October 8, 2018. Prices then slid downward for 14 weeks in a row, shedding a total of 66.6 cents per gallon. In the 15 weeks since then, prices have marched back up by 60.4 cents/gallon. Prices now are within 6.2 cents of the peak they hit in early October.
Gasoline prices have been volatile in many local markets. The upward trend began with increasing crude oil prices, and localized price hikes have been accentuated by the switch to summer grades, refinery issues, and flooding in the Midwest, which has disrupted ethanol supply and transportation.
For the current week ended April 22nd, East Coast PADD 1 retail prices for gasoline rose by 1.5 cents to average $2.733/gallon. The average price was 1.8 cents below last year’s price. Within PADD 1, New England prices jumped by 8.9 cents to average $2.737/gallon. Central Atlantic market prices rose by 4.1 cents to average $2.857/gallon. Prices in the Lower Atlantic market decreased by 1.8 cents to average $2.655/gallon.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail gasoline prices declined by 1.4 cents to reach an average price of $2.722/gallon. PADD 2 prices for the current week were 6.5 cents/gallon higher than they were for the same week last year.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3 market, gasoline prices edged down slightly by 0.1 cents to average $2.535/gallon. PADD 3 continues to have the lowest average prices among the PADDs. Prices for the week were 1.1 cents lower than for the same week last year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, gasoline pump prices jumped by 11.9 cents to arrive at an average price of $2.759/gallon. This was the largest price increase among the PADDs. Prices have been rising rapidly in PADD 4. This week’s prices were 1.3 cents lower than at the same time last year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail gasoline prices rose by 5.0 cents to arrive at an average of $3.629/gallon. PADD 5 continues to have the highest gasoline prices among the five PADDs. Excluding California, West Coast prices rose by 8.0 cents to average $3.243/gallon. This price was 15.5 cents higher than at the same time last year. In California, pump prices rose by 2.6 cents to average $3.948/gallon. California prices are now 38.1 cents per gallon above their levels from the same week last year.