Back to Consumer

West Coast Pump Pinch Pushes National Average to 8th Straight Weekly Gain

|

The national average price of gasoline is up for the eighth straight week, rising 4.8 cents in the last week to stand at $2.75 per gallon, the highest level in 149 days, 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 1.0 cents to $3.03 per gallon.

“The national average gas price has now risen for 2 months straight, tacking on a total of 50 cents per gallon in the last 90 days, which will cost Americans nearly $200 million more at the pump today than back in early January. The road doesn’t end here, however, with California and the West Coast seeing a surge in unexpected refinery outages, leading to an extremely tight supply of cleaner summer gasoline and causing prices to skyrocket,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “California will soon be home to something not seen in nearly five years: a statewide average of over $4 per gallon, with some of the largest cities there swelling to averages as high as $4.15 per gallon before any relief arrives. It really is going to be ugly this week in the West Coast, and any further issues could lead to more spikes, but for the rest of the country expect the rise to continue for a ninth straight week with little good news on the horizon.”

Crude oil prices have continued their rally over the last week, with West Texas Intermediate crude oil posting an 83-cent rise to $63.89 per barrel Monday morning, up over $3 from a week ago, a 5-month high. Brent crude oil was also higher, posting a $2 per barrel rise on the week and back over the key $70 level at $70.72 early Monday.

Oil inventories surged last week according to data from the Energy Information Administration, posting a rise of over 7 million barrels, but gasoline and distillate fuel inventories dropped again as refinery utilization rates fell due to maintenance and a high level of unexpected outages in the West Coast, where utilization fell nearly 2%. Gasoline inventories fell nearly 2 million barrels and now stand roughly 1% lower than a year ago, while distillate inventories are about 1% higher than a year ago but still 6% lower than the five-year average.

Gas prices rose in nearly every state again last week, but the pain was far more widespread on the West Coast due to myriad refinery outages that hampered the roll-out of CARB-mandated summer gasoline that began just a week ago. Coupled with extensive maintenance in the region has sparked a nearly 50-cent-per-gallon rise in average gas prices in California in the last month and a large 20-cent rise in most major California cities in the last week alone. Seven states saw average gas prices rise double digits, mainly along the West Coast: California (+18¢), Washington (+15¢), Oregon (+13¢), Nevada (+12¢) and Utah (+11¢) were the biggest risers, while prices in Florida led decliners, falling 2 cents with small drops in Illinois, Vermont and Iowa as well. The most common gas price remained $2.59 per gallon, followed by $2.69, which rose from third place last week, and $2.49 in third. $2.79 was the fourth most common price. The average price of the most expensive 10% of gas stations surged 13¢/gal to $3.68, while the average of the least expensive 10% of stations rose just 2 cents to $2.35 per gallon.

Gas prices are likely to continue surging along the West Coast in the week ahead while the rest of the country generally continues to see prices slowly marching higher. Peak gasoline prices may be at best still a few weeks away as the transition to cleaner gasoline and refinery maintenance season continues.

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.