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U.S. Sees Gas Price Relief After Harvey, Irma

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Average gas prices have dropped in 45 of the nation’s 50 states with the national average declining nearly 5 cents per gallon to $2.60 in the first weekly drop since Hurricane Harvey’s damage caused refinery shutdowns weeks ago.

“As we welcome back winter gasoline across most of the country, gasoline production has continued to recover after Harvey, leading much of the country to enjoy falling gasoline prices along with fall weather,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. “With refineries continuing to get back online and with demand cooling off from the summer months, we have more room to see the national average drop in the week ahead. In fact, this week could see some of the largest drops in gas prices in many months. It still will take time to completely heal from the issues Harvey and Irma left, particularly due to the large-scale disruptions of fuel logistics and production, but improvement will continue both with lower retail prices and high refinery output.”

With refineries ramping up production in Harvey’s wake, wholesale gasoline prices have eased as supply comes back online, allowing gas stations to begin passing along the lower prices. The relief was widespread with the exception being the West Coast and areas of the Rockies. Alaska, California, Hawaii, Montana and Utah saw average prices rise slightly but should see relief in the weeks ahead.

Top ten states seeing declines: Michigan (-13 cents), Indiana (-13 cents), Illinois (-11 cents), Delaware (-11 cents), Nebraska (-10 cents), Ohio (-9 cents), Maryland (-7 cents), Kentucky (-7 cents), New Jersey (-6 cents) and Missouri (-5 cents).

Leading the nation with the lowest gas prices: Oklahoma ($2.33), Missouri ($2.34), Arkansas ($2.36), Kansas ($2.39), Ohio ($2.39), Louisiana ($2.40), Indiana ($2.45), Mississippi ($2.45), Minnesota ($2.46), and Illinois ($2.46).

Meanwhile, the highest gas prices can be found in: Hawaii ($3.34), California ($3.20), Alaska ($3.05), Washington ($3.03), Nevada ($2.91), Oregon ($2.90), Pennsylvania ($2.86), Connecticut ($2.86), New York ($2.79) and Rhode Island ($2.73). The Northeast is prevalent in the most expensive areas due to gasoline supply being diverted to the Gulf and Florida after Hurricane Harvey leading prices to soar.

Oil prices have been seeing little action as of late, holding just under $50 per barrel for West Texas Intermediate crude oil. Gasoline prices will continue to fall even as oil holds steady due to better supply and demand balance after Harvey. The Energy Information Administration report last week highlighted a large 6 million barrel rise in crude oil inventories, likely because refiners were shut down due to Harvey, while gasoline inventories plummeted nearly 8.5 million barrels for the same reason. When storms interrupt refineries, oil inventories typically rise at the cost of gasoline inventories since less refining is taking place.

For the week ahead, motorists will continue to see broad relief at the pump, but with eyes on Hurricane Maria for potential impact to the U.S. mainland. There will likely be little impact on gasoline prices unless Maria takes aim at the sensitive Gulf region, where much oil production and refinery capacity exists.

Head of Petroleum Analysis (USA)

Patrick has developed into the leading source for reliable and accurate information on gas price hikes. Patrick has been interviewed as a gasoline price expert hundreds of times since 2004. Based in Chicago, Patrick brings to GasBuddy all his assets to help consumers by giving reliable and accurate price forecasts, including the San Jose Mercury News dubbing Patrick "one of the nation's most accurate forecasters" in 2012.

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