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Stuck in neutral and slipping


Returning from the Memorial Day long weekend, gas prices remain close to prices paid last year at this time with many indications that pump prices could see a downward tilt for the balance of the shortened weekend. At $2.367 a gallon, national average pump prices now stand at only 3.9 cents above where we were a year ago and more than 48 cents a gallon lower than on this date 2 years ago, according to the GasBuddy’s Live Ticking Average price-tracker.

“Gas prices appear to be stuck in neutral as energy markets assess the disappointing demand picture, while oil is poised to lose ground in the face of ever increasing U.S shale oil production,” said Dan McTeague, a senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy. “With only marginal increases over this past Memorial Day holiday, there’s a good chance U.S. pump prices may now fall below prices recorded for this time of year, stretching back to 2005, should average U.S. pump prices fall below $2.32 a gallon later this week.”

Indeed, several states including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama, Maine, Missouri and Iowa saw gas prices reach lows not seen for Memorial Day since 2005.

While most states shared in the increase over the last week with 42 of 50 seeing rising prices led by California (up 17 cents), Delaware (up 9.5 cents), Nebraska (up 7.1 cents), Maryland (up 5.4 cents) and Alaska and Kansas (up 4.5 cents); there were a handful that bucked the trend: Michigan, Ohio and Indiana fell respectively, 7.7 cents, 6.7 cents and 5.5 cents.

“The price surge anticipated in the wake of higher oil prices, compared to last year and the anticipation by refiners of a fourth record breaking year in fuel consumption, appears to have been short-lived. Even with GasBuddy’s Summer Travel Forecast indicating Americans plan to increase their travel by 7%, factors such as better mileage and fuel efficiency suggest that while we travel further, our use of fuel may actually be stabilizing, leading to an unexpected surge in gasoline inventories for this time of year,” McTeague added.

Senior Petroleum Analyst, Canada

Dan is a skilled and noted bilingual (French and English) consumer advocate specializing in energy and current affairs. Known as Canada's “Gas Guru,” he founded to better help motorists anticipate the price of gasoline in advance across Canada. He has over three decades of experience in the petroleum industry, as a parliamentarian and an analyst.