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National average gas price declines for third straight week

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The national average for a gallon of gasoline has moved lower for the third straight week, falling a penny to $2.50 per gallon while diesel prices fell a penny and stand at $2.94, according to GasBuddy, which surveys nearly 135,000 gas stations nationwide.

“Even as oil prices were in rally mode to end last week, gasoline prices continued lower with the national average moving lower for the third consecutive week. But March typically comes in more like a lamb and goes out like a lion, and I certainly would expect more fireworks at the pump as temperatures begin to warm and gasoline demand begins to perk up,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “Many places have seen at least the first step towards summer gasoline already made. Unlike the transition from summer to winter gasoline that is much simpler, the transition to the more strict fuel coming into the regulated summer months is a bit trickier, especially considering the amount of work going into refineries ahead of the summer driving season, which is more like the running of the bulls where refineries try to stay ahead of the rise in demand. No matter what happens with oil, any curveball to this work has a tendency to act as a spark in the combustion process — something will likely ignite gas prices, but it’s unpredictable when and to what degree.”

Oil prices perked up in the last week after weekly data from the Energy Information Administration showed a larger decline than analysts had expected. Oil inventories dropped 1.6 million barrels and now stand nearly 100 million barrels lower than where they were a year ago, a significant drop approaching twenty percent. Gasoline inventories rose by 300,000 barrels as refiners likely begin to slow production and move out winter gasoline ahead of the transition to summer gasoline when winter-spec fuel can no longer be sold. Unsurprisingly, refinery utilization dropped 1.7% to 88.1% of capacity. Falling utilization generally puts upward pressure on gasoline prices because of the corresponding fall in supply. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil traded at $61.68 a week ago while opening this week at $63.34.

Looking state-by-state, the largest weekly changes in average gas prices were seen in: Michigan (+10 cents), Indiana (-7 cents), South Dakota (-4 cents), New Jersey (-4 cents), Florida (-3 cents), Nebraska (-3 cents), Colorado (-3 cents), West Virginia (-3 cents) Tennessee (-3 cents) and New Mexico (-3 cents).

States with the lowest average gasoline prices: South Carolina ($2.24), Mississippi ($2.25), Alabama ($2.25), Missouri ($2.26), Texas ($2.27), Arkansas ($2.28), Tennessee ($2.29), Ohio ($2.30), Louisiana ($2.31), Oklahoma ($2.31).

States with the highest average gasoline prices: Hawaii ($3.41), California ($3.31), Alaska ($2.97), Washington ($2.95), Nevada ($2.83), Oregon ($2.83), Pennsylvania ($2.82), New York ($2.72), Connecticut ($2.71) and North Dakota ($2.62).

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.