The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly data on diesel and gasoline retail prices for the week ended February 3, 2020. Prices fell for both fuels. Gasoline prices fell by 5.1 cents/gallon, while diesel prices fell by 5.4 cents/gallon. The national average price for gasoline was $2.455/gallon, which was 20.1 cents/gallon above the price for the same week one year ago. Until November, gasoline prices had been below their levels from last year. Diesel prices had been above last year’s level also, but the recent downward price path has now sent diesel prices back below their levels of last year. Diesel prices also retreated below the $3/gallon level. On a national average basis, the retail price for diesel averaged $2.956/gallon, which was 1.0 cents/gallon lower than the price in the same week last year.
Futures Prices and Retail Price Outlook
During the week January 27, 2020 to January 31, 2020, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures prices fell by $0.78/barrel (1.5%.) Gasoline futures prices rose by 2.79 cents/gallon (1.9%.) Diesel futures prices fell by 5.99 cents/gallon (3.5%.) Coronavirus 2019-nCoV continued to spread, forcing down commodities and stock prices. As of Tuesday, February 4, WTI futures prices have fallen to $50.88/b, and lows have been dipping below $50/b. While the relationship between futures prices and retail prices is not immediate or one-for-one, gasoline and diesel retail prices are likely to decline in the coming week.
Retail Diesel Prices
For the current week ended February 3, retail diesel prices fell by 5.4 cents to settle at an average price of $2.956/gallon. Retail diesel prices had been below the $3/gallon mark until the attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities in mid-September. They remained above the $3/gallon mark until the current week’s price report. Leading up to 2020, between mid-October 2018 and late-January 2019, 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 1st, diesel prices fell more substantially, declining by 10.9 cents/gallon. For the current week ended February 3, diesel prices fell in all PADDs countrywide. The national average price for the week was 1.0 cent/gallon below where it was during the same week last year.
In the East Coast PADD 1, diesel prices fell by 4.4 cents to settle at an average price of $3.003/gallon. Within PADD 1, New England prices fell by 1.4 cents to average $3.105/gallon. Central Atlantic diesel prices dropped by 4.4 cents to average $3.180/gallon. Lower Atlantic prices fell by 5.1 cents to an average price of $2.863/gallon. PADD 1 prices were 3.5 cents/gallon below their levels for the same week last year.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail diesel prices dropped by 6.2 cents to average $2.839/gallon. Prices were the same as their level for the same week last year. PADD 2 joined PADD 3 during the week ended June 17 in having diesel prices fall below $3/gallon. These two PADDs were joined by PADD 4 last week in having diesel prices retreat below $3/gallon.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3, retail diesel prices fell by 6.3 cents to arrive at an average of $2.710/gallon. This was the largest price drop among the PADDs. PADD 3 continues to have the lowest diesel prices among the PADDs, currently 24.6 cents below the U.S. average. Prices were 6.9 cents below their level for the same week in the previous year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, retail diesel prices dropped by 4.0 cents to settle at an average of $2.944/gallon. In the prior week’s price report, PADD 4 joined PADDs 2 and 3 in having diesel prices below $3/gallon. PADD 4 prices were 6.1 cents higher than for the same week in the prior year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail diesel prices fell by 4.8 cents to average $3.517/gallon. PADD 5 prices were 8.2 cents above their level from last year. Until December 2019, PADD 5 had been the only district where diesel prices were higher than they were in the same week last year. Prices rose until this was true in all other PADDs, but prices have been falling steadily, and the national average price is now below its level of last year. Prices excluding California eased by 0.9 cents to arrive at an average of $3.146/gallon. This price was 5.9 cents above the retail price for the same week last year. California diesel prices fell by 4.5 cents to arrive at an average price of $3.812/gallon. Until the week ended June 24, California had been the only major market where diesel prices were above $4/gallon, where they had been for nine weeks. California prices retreated below $4/gallon from July through October, rose above $4/gallon again during the first three weeks of November, and eased since then. California diesel prices were 10.1 cents higher than they were at the same week last year.
Retail Gasoline Prices
U.S. retail gasoline prices fell by 5.1 cents to average $2.455/gallon during the week ended February 3. Prices fell in all PADDs. Retail prices for the current week were 20.1 cents per gallon higher than they were one year ago. Until November, gasoline prices had been below their levels of last year. Prices in all PADDs are now 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 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. However, the months of May and the June brought an easing of prices amounting to 23.3 cents per gallon. The week ended July 1st reversed that downward trend and sent prices up once again.
For the current week ended February 3, East Coast PADD 1 gasoline retail prices dropped by 5.7 cents to settle at an average of $2.393/gallon. The average price was 14.9 cents/gallon above where it was during the same week last year. Within PADD 1, New England prices decreased by 3.6 cents to average $2.479/gallon. Central Atlantic market prices fell by 4.1 cents, arriving at an average of $2.548/gallon. Prices in the Lower Atlantic market dropped by 7.2 cents to average $2.272/gallon.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail gasoline prices fell by 5.8 cents to average $2.313/gallon. PADD 2 prices for the current week were 23.3 cents/gallon higher than they were for the same week last year.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3 market, gasoline prices dropped by 5.9 cents to average $2.136/gallon. This was the largest price decline among the PADDs. PADD 3 continues to have the lowest average prices among the PADDs, currently 31.9 cents/gallon below the average U.S. price. Prices for the week were 20.5 cents higher than for the same week last year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, gasoline pump prices fell by 2.5 cents to settle at an average price of $2.526/gallon. This week’s PADD 4 prices were 35.1 cents higher than at the same time last year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail gasoline prices decreased by 1.5 cents to settle at $3.155/gallon. This was 24.3 cents higher than last year’s price. Prices excluding California eased by 0.9 cents to average $2.898/gallon, which was 24.8 cents/gallon above last year’s price. California prices fell by 1.7 cents to average $3.371/gallon. California prices rose dramatically in late September and early October, attributed to refinery issues, hitting levels above $4/gallon. Prices have been retreating in recent weeks. California prices were 24.0 cents per gallon above their levels from the same week last year. Until November, PADD 5 had been the only PADD where prices were higher than they were one year ago. Currently, average retail gasoline prices in all PADDs are higher than they were last year.