The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly data on diesel and gasoline retail prices for the week ended November 25, 2019. Prices for both fuels fell. Gasoline prices declined by 1.3 cents/gallon, while diesel prices eased by 0.8 cents/gallon. National average prices for gasoline were 4.0 cents/gallon above where they were in the same week one year ago. This may mark a tipping point, since gasoline prices have been below their levels from last year. On a national average basis, retail prices for diesel eased by 0.8 cent/gallon, and they were 19.5 cents/gallon lower than they were in the same week last year.
Futures Prices and Retail Price Outlook
During the week November 18-November 22, 2019, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures prices rose by $0.34/barrel (0.6%.) Gasoline futures prices rose by 5.69 cents/gallon (3.5%.) Diesel futures prices fell by 1.32 cents/gallon (0.676%.) Although the relationship between futures prices and retail prices is not immediate or one-for-one, this suggests that gasoline retail prices could rise in the coming week, while diesel prices could ease.
Retail Diesel Prices
For the current week ended November 25, retail diesel prices declined by 0.8 cents to arrive at an average price of $3.066/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 25th, diesel prices rose in PADDs 1 and 4, while falling in PADDs 2, 3 and 5. The national average price for the week was 19.5 cents/gallon below where it was during the same week last year.
In the East Coast PADD 1, diesel prices edged up by 0.1 cent to arrive at an average price of $3.054/gallon. Within PADD 1, New England prices rose by 1.4 cents to average $3.063/gallon. Central Atlantic diesel prices rose slightly by 0.1 cent to average $3.247/gallon. Lower Atlantic prices declined by 0.1 cent to arrive at an average price of $2.921/gallon. PADD 1 prices were 22.3 cents/gallon below their levels for the same week last year.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail diesel prices declined slightly by 0.2 cents to average $2.969/gallon. Prices were 21.6 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 fell by 1.6 cents to settle at an average of $2.776/gallon. PADD 3 continues to have the lowest diesel prices among the PADDs, currently 29.0 cents below the U.S. average. Prices were 25.9 cents lower than for the same week in the previous year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, retail diesel prices rose by 1.4 cents to reach an average of $3.246/gallon. This was the only significant price increase among the PADDs. PADD 4 prices were 9.3 cents lower than for the same week in the prior year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail diesel prices dropped by 3.6 cents to average $3.72/gallon. This was the largest price drop among the PADDs. PADD 5 prices were 1.9 cents below their level from last year. Prices excluding California fell by 5.7 cents to arrive at an average of $3.387/gallon. This price was 6.8 cents below the retail price for the same week last year. California diesel prices fell by 2.0 cents to arrive at an average price of $3.983/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, but prices rose above $4/gallon again during the first three weeks of November. California diesel prices were 1.9 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 1.3 cents to average of $2.579/gallon during the week ended November 25. Prices fell in PADDs 2, 4 and 5, while rising in PADDs 1 and 3. Retail prices for the current week were 4.0 cents per gallon higher than they were one year ago. This may mark a turning point if price strength continues, because until this week, prices had been below last year’s levels.
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 25th, East Coast PADD 1 gasoline retail prices rose by 0.9 cents to average $2.462/gallon. The average price was 3.6 cents/gallon below where it was during the same week last year. Within PADD 1, New England prices increased by 0.2 cents to average $2.532/gallon. Central Atlantic market prices also rose 0.2 cents, reaching an average of $2.609/gallon. Prices in the Lower Atlantic market rose by 1.6 cents to average $2.351/gallon.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail gasoline prices fell by 3.2 cents to average $2.403/gallon. PADD 2 prices for the current week were 8.9 cents/gallon higher than they were for the same week last year.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3 market, gasoline prices rose by 1.8 cents to average $2.238/gallon. PADD 3 continues to have the lowest average prices among the PADDs, currently 34.1 cents/gallon below the average U.S. price. Prices for the week were 2.2 cents higher than for the same week last year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, gasoline pump prices fell by 1.0 cents to settle at an average price of $2.825/gallon. This week’s PADD 4 prices were 2.9 cents higher than at the same time last year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail gasoline prices dropped significantly by 6.9 cents to settle at $3.471/gallon. This was the most significant price decline among the PADDs. Prices excluding California fell by 4.0 cents to average $3.131/gallon, which was 3.1 cents/gallon above last year’s price. California prices dropped sharply by 9.4 cents to average $3.753/gallon. California prices rose dramatically in late September and early October, hitting levels above $4/gallon, and recently have been retreating. California prices were 27.5 cents per gallon above their levels from the same week last year. Until two weeks ago, PADD 5 had been the only PADD where prices were higher than they were one year ago. PADDs 2, 3 and 4 now share this distinction.