Back to Analyst

Gas Prices Move Higher Nationally on Great Lakes, California Pain


For the second straight week, the national average price for gasoline advanced, jumping nearly 7 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.53 per gallon, according to price-tracker GasBuddy.

“It’s been a frenzied week at fuel pumps across the country, but without a hurricane driving up prices, many motorists have been dumbfounded about what’s taking place with the unseasonable upward trend,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “Such a strong weekly upward move is rare in the fall, but is explained by a confluence of factors, including oil prices hitting a new 2017 high, a major pipeline leak resulting in disruption, autumn refinery maintenance, but perhaps among the more surprising – robust demand for gasoline so late in the season. Such demand has magnified relatively mundane factors into a major gas price event for much of the United States and Canada. But some slowdown is expected in the Great Lakes – the region hardest hit with price spikes in the last week – as repairs to the Explorer Pipeline have been completed, but some additional bumps in the road ahead can be expected for motorists elsewhere.”

Headwinds in oil markets pushed prices up Monday morning to a new multi-year high of $55.84 per barrel at press time, caused by jitters in the Middle East, OPEC’s upcoming meeting to discuss production levels, and the U.S. rig count falling by 11 rigs to under 900. In addition, oil refineries throughout the country have been doing some seasonal maintenance, but in the Great Lakes due to a combination of heavy maintenance and the Explorer Pipeline that had experienced a leak, gasoline prices jumped significantly. The pipeline was back to normal late last week after repairs, but the damage had been done as gas prices reacted swiftly to the combination of oil prices rising, refinery maintenance, pipeline issues and low gasoline inventories.

Data from the Energy Information Administration last week also weighed on gasoline prices as the data showed a 4 million barrel decline to a level 5% lower than last year. In addition, crude oil inventories also fell as crude oil exports achieved a new record high. Exports put pressure on U.S. oil prices to rise as demand for U.S. oil increases. Just three states saw average gas prices decline versus last week: Montana, Utah and Rhode Island while 47 of the nation’s 50 states saw prices rise.

Across the country, the largest changes in average gas prices by state: Ohio (+18 cents), Illinois (+18 cents), Indiana (+15 cents), California (+15 cents), Wisconsin (+12 cents), Michigan (+9 cents), Missouri (+8 cents), Delaware (+6 cents), Iowa (+6 cents) and Kentucky (+5 cents).

States with the lowest average gas prices: Alabama ($2.21), Mississippi ($2.22), South Carolina ($2.24), Texas ($2.26), Arkansas ($2.26), Louisiana ($2.26), Tennessee ($2.27), Virginia ($2.30), Oklahoma ($2.33) and Georgia ($2.33).

States with the highest average gas prices: California ($3.21), Hawaii ($3.10), Alaska ($3.06), Washington ($2.91), Nevada ($2.81), Oregon ($2.75), Pennsylvania ($2.75), Connecticut ($2.72), Indiana ($2.72) and Illinois ($2.70).

Gas prices are likely to moderate in the Great Lakes as some pressure is relieved with the Explorer Pipeline back online, but with rising oil prices, much of the rest of the country is likely to see prices continuing to trend higher over the next week.

GasBuddy is a company that connects drivers with their Perfect Pit Stop. As the leading source for crowdsourced, real-time fuel prices at more than 150,000 gas station convenience stores in the U.S., Canada and Australia, millions of drivers use the GasBuddy app and website every day to find gas station convenience stores based on fuel prices, location and ratings/reviews. GasBuddy’s first-of-its-kind fuel savings program, Pay with GasBuddy, has saved Americans more than $3.6 million at the pumps since its launch in 2017.