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Gas Prices See Biggest Weekly Jump of 2019

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Average gasoline prices in the U.S. continue to move higher, posting a 6.1 cent per gallon rise over the last week to $2.39 per gallon, according to GasBuddy data compiled from more than 10 million individual price reports covering 135,000 gas stations across the United States. The average price of diesel rose 3.7 cents to $2.97 per gallon.

“Gasoline prices saw their biggest weekly jump of 2019 with the national average now at its highest point since mid-December as oil prices continue to advance, while such jumps are in line with expectations, that doesn’t make them any easier to digest,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “Unfortunately, we’re likely in store for a continued March higher into March and even April as seasonal trends kick into high gear, but there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Average gas prices should remain lower than their year-ago levels for now and the annual spring surge we see at gas pumps will likely not be as bad as we’ve seen in years past.”

West Texas Intermediate crude oil posted another weekly rise last week, finishing at $57.26 per barrel, a rise of $1 per barrel. Brent Crude oil rose to $67.12 per barrel with both crudes at their highest levels of 2019. Oil prices remain in the positive column since reaching a low on December 24, 2018 with WTI at $43 per barrel.

In last week’s report from the Energy Information Administration, refinery utilization stayed the same nationally, while plummeting to over a year low in the East Coast (64%, down 5.7%) while rising to 90.2% (+4.7%) on the West Coast. The plunge in refinery utilization in the East Coast region is due to both planned and unplanned maintenance and has contributed to a noticeable rise in gas prices in the area. Both gasoline and distillate inventories fell last week, contributing to a rise in wholesale gasoline and diesel prices. Lower utilization rates are expected to continue for the next 6-10 weeks as maintenance season continues.

At the gas pump, motorists have been seeing prices rise on and off and the lowest prices are now solidly behind us for most areas. The most common price across the U.S. rose to $2.29 per gallon, up from $2.19 a week ago, while $2.09 was still the second most common price and $2.39/gal the third most common price. The number of stations in the U.S. selling gasoline under $2 per gallon plunged to 4,246 to close out last week, down from 11,000 the previous week. Motorists can kiss $1.99 prices goodbye, with no states having an average price under the psychological mark, down from a dozen states to start 2019. The cheapest 10% of stations averaged $2.03 per gallon while the most expensive 10% of stations in the nation averaged $3.23 per gallon.

Gasoline prices are likely to rise again in the week ahead in most areas, pressured by both oil prices and seasonal factors including maintenance and the switch to cleaner gasoline leading to fewer refiners discounting winter-spec fuel. Lowest average gas prices can be found in Mississippi, at $2.09 per gallon, followed by Louisiana ($2.09) and Alabama ($2.12). The nation’s highest prices can be found in California ($3.28), Hawaii ($3.20) and Washington ($2.86).

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 $6 million at the pumps since its launch in 2017.