The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly data on diesel and gasoline retail prices for the week ended November 18, 2019. Gasoline prices fell, while diesel prices were little changed. Retail prices for gasoline fell by 2.3 cents/gallon for the week. National average prices for gasoline were 1.9 cents/gallon below where they were in the same week one year ago. On a national average basis, retail prices for diesel rose fractionally by 0.1 cent/gallon. National average prices for diesel were 20.8 cents/gallon lower than they were in the same week last year.
Futures Prices and Retail Price Outlook
During the week November 11-November 15, 2019, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures prices fell by $0.49/barrel (0.9%.) Gasoline futures prices fell by 1.47 cents/gallon (0.9%.) Diesel futures prices fell modestly by 0.32 cents/gallon (0.167%.) Although the relationship between futures prices and retail prices is not immediate or one-for-one, this suggests that gasoline retail prices could ease slightly in the coming week, while diesel prices could be roughly stable. However, the current week is bringing an upward trend in oil prices which could counteract last week’s price decline.
Retail Diesel Prices
For the current week ended November 18, retail diesel prices rose fractionally by 0.1 cent to arrive at an average price of $3.074/gallon. Retail diesel prices had been below the $3/gallon mark until the attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. 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. For the current week ended November 18th, diesel prices rose in PADDs 1 and 4, while falling in PADDs 2, 3 and 5. The national average price for the week was 20.8 cents/gallon below where it was during the same week last year.
In the East Coast PADD 1, diesel prices rose by 0.3 cents to arrive at an average price of $3.053/gallon. Within PADD 1, New England prices increased by 0.7 cents to average $3.049/gallon. Central Atlantic diesel prices edged up slightly by 0.1 cent to average $3.246/gallon. Lower Atlantic prices rose by 0.3 cents to arrive at an average price of $2.922/gallon. PADD 1 prices were 24.2 cents/gallon below their levels for the same week last year.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail diesel prices declined slightly by 0.1 cent to average $2.971/gallon. Prices were 24.5 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. These two PADDs remain the only ones with prices below the $3/gallon mark.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3, retail diesel prices declined by 0.3 cents to settle at an average of $2.792/gallon. PADD 3 continues to have the lowest diesel prices among the PADDs. Prices were 25.3 cents lower than for the same week in the previous year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, retail diesel prices rose by 2.9 cents to reach an average of $3.232/gallon. This was the only significant price increase among the PADDs. PADD 4 prices were 12.8 cents lower than for the same week in the prior year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail diesel prices eased by 0.2 cents to average $3.756/gallon. PADD 5 prices were 1.1 cents below their level from last year. Prices excluding California rose by 0.9 cents to arrive at an average of $3.444/gallon. This price was 3.1 cents below the retail price for the same week last year. California diesel prices fell by 1.1 cents to arrive at an average price of $4.003/gallon. Until the week ended June 24th, California had been the only major market where diesel prices were above $4/gallon, where they had remained for nine weeks. Prices now have been above $4/gallon for the past three weeks. California diesel prices were 0.3 cents higher than they were at the same week last year. It is the only major submarket where diesel retail prices are above last year’s levels.
Retail Gasoline Prices
U.S. retail gasoline prices fell by 2.3 cents to average of $2.592/gallon during the week ended November 18. Prices fell in all PADDs except for the Rocky Mountains PADD 4. Retail prices for the current week were 1.9 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. 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 November 18th, East Coast PADD 1 gasoline retail prices fell by 2.1 cents to average $2.453/gallon. The average price was 10.1 cents/gallon below where it was during the same week last year. Within PADD 1, New England prices decreased by 0.5 cents to average $2.530/gallon. Central Atlantic market prices shed 2.2 cents to average $2.607/gallon. Prices in the Lower Atlantic market fell by 2.7 cents to average $2.335/gallon.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail gasoline prices eased slightly by 0.1 cent to average $2.435/gallon. PADD 2 prices for the current week were 1.8 cents/gallon higher than they were for the same week last year.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3 market, gasoline prices dropped by 4.2 cents to average $2.220/gallon. PADD 3 continues to have the lowest average prices among the PADDs, currently 37.2 cents/gallon below the average U.S. price. Prices for the week were 8.8 cents lower than for the same week last year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, gasoline pump prices rose by 1.6 cents to reach an average price of $2.835/gallon. This was the only price increase among the PADDs. This week’s PADD 4 prices were 0.7 cents higher than at the same time last year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail gasoline prices dropped by 5.1 cents to settle at $3.540/gallon. This was the most significant price decline among the PADDs. Prices excluding California fell by 2.1 cents to average $3.171/gallon, which was 4.4 cents/gallon above last year’s price. California prices dropped sharply by 7.4 cents to average $3.847/gallon. California prices rose dramatically in late September and early October, hitting levels above $4/gallon, and recently have been retreating. California prices were 32.1 cents per gallon above their levels from the same week last year. Until this past week, PADD 5 had been the only PADD where prices were higher than they were one year ago. PADD 2 and PADD 4 now share this distinction.