The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly data on diesel and gasoline retail prices for the week ended August 5, 2019. Prices for gasoline fell in all PADDs countrywide, while diesel prices eased slightly in some areas and edged up in others, resulting in a slight decrease on average. On a national average basis, retail prices for gasoline fell by 2.7 cents/gallon for the week. National average prices for gasoline were 16.4 cents/gallon below where they were in the same week one year ago. On a national average basis, retail prices for diesel eased by 0.2 cents/gallon. National average prices for diesel were 19.1 cents/gallon lower than they were in the same week last year.
Futures Prices and Retail Price Outlook
During the week July 29-August 2, 2019, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell by $1.66/b (3.0%.) Gasoline futures prices dropped by 7.49 cents/gallon (4.1%.) Diesel futures prices eased by 1.4 cents/gallon (0.74%.) 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 decline in the coming week.
Retail Diesel Prices
For the current week ended August 5, retail diesel prices eased slightly by 0.2 cents to settle at an average price of $3.032/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 April, diesel prices crept back up by 20.4 cents/gallon. The month of May brought a modest reversal in the upward trend in diesel prices. During the five weeks of June including the week ended July 1, diesel prices fell more substantially, declining by 10.9 cents/gallon since the last week of May. For the current week ended August 5, diesel prices fell slightly in all PADDs except for the Midwest PADD 2. The national average price for the week was 19.1 cents/gallon below where it was during the same week last year.
In the East Coast PADD 1, diesel prices fell by 0.4 cents to arrive at an average price of $3.055/gallon. Within PADD 1, New England prices rose by 0.1 cent to average $3.107/gallon. Central Atlantic diesel prices fell by 1.3 cents to average $3.233/gallon. Lower Atlantic prices decreased by 0.1 cent to arrive at an average price of $2.923/gallon. PADD 1 prices were 16.7 cents/gallon below their prices for the same week last year.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail diesel prices rose by 0.2 cents to average $2.942/gallon. This was the only price increase among the PADDs. Prices were 20.9 cents/gallon below their level for the same week last year. PADD 2 joined PADD 3 during the week ended June 17th in having diesel prices fall below $3/gallon.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3, retail diesel prices declined by 0.6 cents to average $2.787/gallon. PADD 3 typically has the lowest diesel prices among the PADDs. Prices were 20.8 cents lower than for the same week in the previous year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, retail diesel prices fell by 0.2 cents to arrive at an average of $2.965/gallon. Five weeks ago, PADD 4 joined PADDs 3 and 2 in having diesel prices below $3/gallon. PADD 4 prices were 39.6 cents lower than for the same week in the prior year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail diesel prices eased by 0.1 cent to settle at an average of $3.605/gallon. PADD 5 prices were 11.2 cents below their level from last year. Prices excluding California fell by 0.4 cents to arrive at an average of $3.182/gallon. This price was 25.0 cents below the retail price for the same week last year. California diesel prices remained flat at an average price of $3.940/gallon. Until the week ended June 24, California had been the only major market where diesel prices were above $4/gallon. California prices had been above the $4/gallon mark for nine weeks. California diesel prices were 0.3 cents lower than they were at the same week last year.
Retail Gasoline Prices
U.S. retail gasoline prices fell by 2.7 cents/gallon to settle at an average of $2.688/gallon during the week ended August 5. Prices fell in all PADDs. Retail prices for the current week were 16.4 cents per gallon lower 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 fourteen weeks in a row, shedding a total of 66.6 cents per gallon. In the next seventeen weeks, prices marched back up by 66.0 cents/gallon. Prices came very close to the peak they hit in early October, before the months of May and the June brought an easing of prices. Gasoline prices in May and June retreated by 23.3 cents per gallon. The week ended July 1st reversed that downward trend and sent prices up once again.
During the first three weeks of July, gasoline prices rose by 12.5 cents/gallon. This outpaced the increases in crude oil and diesel prices mainly because of the explosion and fire at the 335,000-bpd, gasoline-maximizing Philadelphia Energy Systems (PES) refinery. Tropical Storm Barry then caused an uptick in prices as it disrupted oil production, refining and distribution. Fortunately, the storm was less severe than expected. Prices began to relax. During the last two weeks of July, gasoline prices eased by 6.4 cents/gallon.
For the current week ended August 5th, East Coast PADD 1 retail prices for gasoline fell by 3.0 cents to average $2.599/gallon. The average price was 20.3 cents/gallon below where it was during the same week last year. Within PADD 1, New England prices fell by 1.2 cents to average $2.688/gallon. Central Atlantic market prices fell by 1.6 cents to average $2.770/gallon. Prices in the Lower Atlantic market dropped by 4.3 cents to settle at an average of $2.469/gallon.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail gasoline prices fell by 2.6 cents to arrive at an average price of $2.633/gallon. PADD 2 prices for the current week were 14.0 cents/gallon lower than they were for the same week last year.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3 market, gasoline prices fell by 3.7 cents to average $2.385/gallon. This was the largest price decrease among the PADDs. PADD 3 continues to have the lowest average prices among the PADDs, currently 30.3 cents/gallon below the average U.S. price. Prices for the week were 20.5 cents lower than for the same week last year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, gasoline pump prices declined by 0.9 cents to settle at an average price of $2.699/gallon. This week’s prices were 22.5 cents lower than at the same time last year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail gasoline prices fell by 1.4 cents to arrive at an average of $3.292/gallon. PADD 5 continues to have the highest gasoline prices among the five PADDs. It is the only PADD where retail prices are above $3/gallon. Prices were 5.0 cents below last year’s level. Excluding California, West Coast prices fell by 1.4 cents to average $2.997/gallon. This price was 14.9 cents lower than at the same time last year. In California, pump prices also fell by 1.4 cents to average $3.537/gallon. California prices were 3.6 cents per gallon above their levels from the same week last year.