The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly data on diesel and gasoline retail prices for the week ended November 4, 2019. Gasoline prices rose, while diesel prices eased fractionally. On a national average basis, retail prices for gasoline rose by 0.9 cents/gallon for the week. National average prices for gasoline were 14.8 cents/gallon below where they were in the same week one year ago. On a national average basis, retail prices for diesel eased slightly by 0.2 cents/gallon. National average prices for diesel were 27.6 cents/gallon lower than they were in the same week last year.
Futures Prices and Retail Price Outlook
During the week October 28-November 1, 2019, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures prices dropped by $2.50/barrel (4.4%.) Gasoline futures prices fell by 7.48 cents/gallon (4.5%.) Diesel futures prices dropped by 10.31 cents/gallon (5.21%.) Although the relationship between futures prices and retail prices is not immediate or one-for-one, retail prices are likely to decline in the coming week, although futures prices have regained some ground this week. Rally-collapse cycles have been common in futures markets, and this week is bringing a rally based on optimism that progress will be made in the U.S.-China trade war.
Retail Diesel Prices
For the current week ended November 4, retail diesel prices eased slightly by 0.2 cents to arrive at an average price of $3.062/gallon. Retail diesel prices had been below the $3/gallon mark until the attacks on Saudi Arabia. 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 1st, diesel prices fell more substantially, declining by 10.9 cents/gallon. For the current week ended November 4th, diesel prices fell in PADDs 1, 2 and 3, while rising in PADDs 4 and 5. The national average price for the week was 27.6 cents/gallon below where it was during the same week last year.
In the East Coast PADD 1, diesel prices fell by 1.5 cents to arrive at an average price of $3.041/gallon. Within PADD 1, New England prices increased by 0.6 cents to average $3.034/gallon. Central Atlantic diesel prices declined by 0.2 cents to average $3.244/gallon. Lower Atlantic prices fell by 2.7 cents to settle at an average price of $2.905/gallon. PADD 1 prices were 28.8 cents/gallon below their prices for the same week last year.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail diesel prices fell by 0.8 cents to average $2.955/gallon. Prices were 33.1 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 are the only ones with prices below the $3/gallon mark.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3, retail diesel prices fell by 1.1 cents to average $2.795/gallon. PADD 3 typically has the lowest diesel prices among the PADDs. Prices were 31.1 cents lower than for the same week in the previous year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, retail diesel prices jumped by 8.4 cents to average $3.166/gallon. This was the largest price increase among the PADDs. PADD 4 prices were 23.2 cents lower than for the same week in the prior year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail diesel prices rose by 2.2 cents to reach an average of $3.746/gallon. PADD 5 prices were 8.7 cents below their level from last year. Prices excluding California rose by 3.4 cents to arrive at an average of $3.413/gallon. This price was 12.5 cents below the retail price for the same week last year. California diesel prices rose by 1.3 cents to arrive at an average price of $4.011/gallon. Until the week ended June 24, California had been the only major market where diesel prices were above $4/gallon, where they had remained for nine weeks. Prices now have regained the $4/gallon level. California diesel prices were 5.7 cents lower than they were at the same week last year.
Retail Gasoline Prices
U.S. retail gasoline prices rose by 0.9 cents to reach an average of $2.605/gallon during the week ended November 4. Prices rose in all PADDs except for PADD 3, the Gulf Coast. Retail prices for the current week were 14.8 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.
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. Subsequently, prices began to relax, and they fell for eight consecutive weeks beginning with the week of July 22, yielding a total price drop of 20.0 cents/gallon.
For the current week ended November 4, East Coast PADD 1 retail prices for gasoline rose by 2.2 cents to average $2.476/gallon. The average price was 20.4 cents/gallon below where it was during the same week last year. Within PADD 1, New England prices increased by 0.8 cents to average $2.530/gallon. Central Atlantic market prices rose by 1.8 cents to average $2.619/gallon. Prices in the Lower Atlantic market increased by 2.9 cents to average $2.372/gallon.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail gasoline prices rose by 0.6 cents to average $2.416/gallon. PADD 2 prices for the current week were 18.8 cents/gallon lower than they were for the same week last year.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3 market, gasoline prices fell by 1.5 cents to average $2.230/gallon. This was the only price drop among the PADDs. PADD 3 continues to have the lowest average prices among the PADDs, currently 37.5 cents/gallon below the average U.S. price. Prices for the week were 22.5 cents lower than for the same week last year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, gasoline pump prices rose by 5.4 cents to reach an average price of $2.791/gallon. This was the only price increase among the PADDs. This week’s prices were 14.4 cents lower than at the same time last year.
There is an error in this week’s price data for the West Coast PADD 5 market. Retail gasoline prices were reported as remaining flat at $3.602/gallon. However, California prices rose by 0.5 cents to average $3.953/gallon, and prices excluding California edged up by 0.1 cent to average $3.184/gallon. This price was 2.4 cents lower than at the same time last year. California prices were 30.9 cents per gallon above their levels from the same week last year. It is the only major U.S. submarket where prices are higher than they were one year ago.