The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly data on diesel and gasoline retail prices for the week ended September 16, 2019. Prices for both fuels reversed their downward trend. The price increases were modest, however, since prices did not yet reflect the jump in oil prices caused by the attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. On a national average basis, retail prices for gasoline increased by 0.2 cents/gallon for the week. National average prices for gasoline were 28.9 cents/gallon below where they were in the same week one year ago. On a national average basis, retail prices for diesel rose by 1.6 cents/gallon. National average prices for diesel were 28.1 cents/gallon lower than they were in the same week last year.
Futures Prices and Retail Price Outlook
During the from September 9-September 13th, 2019, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell by $1.65/b (2.9%.) Gasoline futures prices fell by 2.45 cents/gallon (1.6%.) Diesel futures prices fell by 2.1 cents/gallon (1.13%.) During that week, oil prices were pressured by concerns of oversupply, caused by the potential thawing of relations between the U.S. and Iran. This would likely have caused a continuation this week of the recent downward trend in retail prices. Over the weekend, however, Yemen claimed responsibility for attacks on Saudi Arabian oil infrastructure that shut in approximately 5.7 million barrels per day of crude. Futures prices soared at market opening on Monday, September 16. Therefore, although futures prices fell last week, retail fuel prices in the coming week should be expected to rise significantly.
Retail Diesel Prices
For the current week ended September 16th, retail diesel prices rose by 1.6 cents to arrive at an average price of $2.987/gallon. This is the fifth consecutive week that national average retail prices have been below the $3/gallon mark, though current trends are likely to strengthen retail prices in the coming week. 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 September 16th, diesel prices rose in all PADDs. The national average price for the week was 28.1 cents/gallon below where it was during the same week last year.
In the East Coast PADD 1, diesel prices increased by 0.6 cents to arrive at an average price of $2.998/gallon. Within PADD 1, New England prices fell by 0.9 cents to average $3.013 gallon. Central Atlantic diesel prices rose by 1.6 cents to average $3.177/gallon. Lower Atlantic prices increased by 0.3 cents to settle at an average price of $2.874/gallon. PADD 1 prices were 25.4 cents/gallon below their prices for the same week last year.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail diesel prices rose by 1.8 cents to average $2.882/gallon. Prices were 32.6 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.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3, retail diesel prices rose by 1.6 cents to average $2.761/gallon. PADD 3 typically has the lowest diesel prices among the PADDs. Prices were 29.5 cents lower than for the same week in the previous year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, retail diesel prices rose by 2.6 cents to arrive at an average of $2.959/gallon. This was the largest price increase among the PADDs, tied with the price increase seen in PADD 5. Eleven weeks ago, PADD 4 joined PADDs 3 and 2 in having diesel prices below $3/gallon. PADD 4 prices were 40.4 cents lower than for the same week in the prior year. This is the largest year-on-year price drop among the PADDs.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail diesel prices rose by 2.6 cents to reach an average of $3.574/gallon. This tied with the price increase experienced in PADD 4. PADD 5 prices were 18.1 cents below their level from last year. Prices excluding California rose by 3.0 cents to arrive at an average of $3.161/gallon. This price was 31.2 cents below the retail price for the same week last year. California diesel prices increased by 2.3 cents to arrive at an average price of $3.901/gallon. Until the week ended June 24th, California had been the only major market where diesel prices were above $4/gallon. The state’s prices had been above the $4/gallon mark for nine weeks. California diesel prices were 7.8 cents lower than they were at the same week last year.
Retail Gasoline Prices
U.S. retail gasoline prices rose slightly by 0.2 cents/gallon to settle at an average of $2.552/gallon during the week ended September 16. There were significant regional variations, but the overall price movements were modest. Prices fell in PADDs 1 and 3, rose in PADDs 2 and 4, and remained unchanged in PADD 5. Retail prices for the current week were 28.9 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, 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 1 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 September 16, East Coast PADD 1 retail prices for gasoline fell by 0.9 cents to average $2.453/gallon. The average price was 33.5 cents/gallon below where it was during the same week last year. Within PADD 1, New England prices decreased by 0.3 cents to average $2.542/gallon. Central Atlantic market prices fell by 1.1 cents to average $2.595/gallon. Prices in the Lower Atlantic market declined by 0.8 cents to settle at an average of $2.341/gallon.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail gasoline prices rose by 1.8 cents to arrive at an average price of $2.456/gallon. PADD 2 prices for the current week were 30.5 cents/gallon lower than they were for the same week last year.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3 market, gasoline prices declined by 0.3 cents to average $2.233/gallon. 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 32.8 cents lower than for the same week last year.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, gasoline pump prices rose by 2.1 cents to an average price of $2.654/gallon. This was the largest price increase among the PADDs. This week’s prices were 36.0 cents lower than at the same time last year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail gasoline prices remained unchanged at an average of $3.254/gallon. PADD 5 continues to have the highest gasoline prices among the five PADDs. It is the only PADD where retail prices continue to exceed $3/gallon. Prices were 9.0 cents below last year’s level. Excluding California, West Coast prices decreased by 0.3 cents to average $2.963/gallon. This price was 16.4 cents lower than at the same time last year. In California, pump prices edged up by 0.2 cents to average $3.496/gallon. California prices were 2.4 cents per gallon below their levels from the same week last year.