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Report: Gasoline Prices Heading Higher Again

July 16, 2013 by · Comments Off on Report: Gasoline Prices Heading Higher Again 

As we head into the dog days of summer, gas prices have once again become a real pain. Examiner.com reported that according to AAA, a gallon of regular unleaded has increased 14 cents versus a week ago as the national average is $3.61, up from $3.47 a week ago.

It could mean a repeat of last year’s seasonal ramp-up, which spiked around Labor Day, but that’s a newish trend. Between the first week of July and the first week of September, a gallon of regular unleaded soared 49 cents in 2012, but just 9 cents in 2011, according to historical data from the federal government’s Energy Information Administration. In 2008, 2009 and 2010, gas fell during that span.

Gas prices are also 22 cents higher than a year ago at this time.

Why this year’s rise? Business Insider explains that gas prices track with those of Brent crude oil, which has gained 7% since late June on political unrest in Egypt and production outages in Libya.

And CNBC reports that U.S. refinery outages along the Gulf Coast, the Midwest, the East Coast and Canada have exacerbated the problems. Brent prices have leveled off in the past couple days, but it remains to be seen whether they will return to June levels.

 

AAA: Drivers Change Habits at $3.44/Gallon

April 24, 2013 by · Comments Off on AAA: Drivers Change Habits at $3.44/Gallon 

New breaking point?

A new survey from AAA says consumers’ attitudes about gas prices and driving behavior begins to change once gas prices near $3.50 a gallon.

Cincinnati.com reported that half of more than 1,000 U.S. adults told AAA prices are too high when they reach $3.44 a gallon. Nearly two-thirds of Americans told the travel club that they are coping with higher gasoline prices by changing their driving habits or lifestyles. Data from AAA’s consumer price index were released Tuesday (April 23).

Ninety percent of drivers believe prices are too high when they reach $4 a gallon. Less than five years ago, the national average for regular gasoline was $4 a gallon, but residents of large cities including Chicago have had to deal with that mark for long stretches of time since then.

“It is possible there is a new normal in terms of consumer attitudes now that gas prices have remained above $3 per gallon for more than two years,” said AAA President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Darbelnet.

The average price in Northern Kentucky has been above $3.44 for 84 days, or 75% of the time, this year. In Southwest Ohio, prices were above that level for 74 days, or 66% of the time.

If that sounds bad, it is actually better than last year. In 2012, the average price in Northern Kentucky was higher than the $3.44 mark 86% of the time, while it was higher 71% of the time in Southwest Ohio.

The most common way — at 86% — adults surveyed said they coped with higher gas prices was driving less. A majority of adults also said they reduced shopping or dining out, drove a more fuel efficient car or delayed major purchases.

Public transportation agencies often identify higher gasoline prices as a development that helps boost ridership in many locales, but only 15% of people surveyed said they used the service more frequently when prices rise. Young adults more apt to coping work closer to home or use public transit than adults age 35 and older.

 

 

Gas Costs Continue a Very Rare Spring Drop

April 10, 2013 by · Comments Off on Gas Costs Continue a Very Rare Spring Drop 

Downward spiral continues

Here’s a spring break we can all enjoy: lower gas prices.

USA Today reported that at a time when gas prices traditionally rise, they continue to slide, even as the nation heads into peak summer driving season.

Nationally, prices now average $3.61 a gallon. That’s a 12-cent drop from early March and 33 cents below $3.94 a year ago, when prices were close to a 2012 peak. And despite record-high averages in February, motorists paid an average $3.54 a gallon in the first quarter, vs. $3.58 in the first quarter of 2012.

Consumers in some regions of the Rocky Mountains — close to relatively cheap North American crude oil near refiners — are filling up on sub-$3-a-gallon gas. In Montana, which averages $3.37 a gallon, prices in some cities, such as Great Falls, are in the $2.90s. Casper and Cheyenne, Wyo., had average prices below $3 for the entire quarter.

“We’ll probably see more markets with $3-a-gallon gas next week,” says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service and GasBuddy. Among the likely areas: South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.

GasBuddy analyst Patrick DeHaan estimates that each penny per gallon saved means savings of about $108 million a day over year-ago prices. The price-tracking Internet app tracks prices at more than 140,000 gas stations.

Crude oil prices continue to slide. Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude fell to a two-week low of $92.70 a barrel Friday, ending the week down nearly 5%. Meanwhile, the Energy Information Administration says U.S. inventories were at a 22-year high last week.

Still, prices at the pump could be prone to spikes — as they did last year when refinery disruptions caused supply issues in California and the Midwest. But DeHaan and Kloza expect continued price weakness for the next few weeks.

“The coast is not yet clear for a 2013 top, but it was always nonsense to suggest that prices might vary from $4.25 to $5 a gallon,” Kloza says. “That won’t happen unless there is a disruption in the Mideast.”

And despite the year-over-year price drop, there is still pain at the pump, based on historical trends. During 2009′s first quarter, gas averaged less than $1.90 a gallon and averaged less than $1.60 a gallon in the first quarter of 2003.

Highest current prices in the continental U.S.: California, averaging $4.03, vs. $4.28 a year ago. Price ranges in some markets have never been wider. GasBuddy says drivers in Washington, D.C., can save $1.14 a gallon shopping for the cheapest price available.

Gasoline Prices in 1st March Decline Since ’03

April 1, 2013 by · Comments Off on Gasoline Prices in 1st March Decline Since ’03 

Downward spiral continues

Gasoline prices that soared in early 2013 gave way to a rare March decline – one that could lower the temperature of political fights over energy.

According to The Hill, AAA reported today (April 1) that national average prices fell during March for the first time in 10 years, and current prices are almost 30 cents per gallon less than a year ago.

“The national average should remain less expensive than last spring,” the travel services group said in its analysis.

Prices currently average $3.63-per-gallon. The decline of 15 cents per gallon last month was the first March decline since 2003, AAA said in its monthly report.

“It is very unusual for gas prices to decline in early spring like we have seen this year,” AAA spokesman Avery Ash said. “An increase in refinery production and lower oil prices in early March have combined to provide rare falling prices for motorists in comparison to recent years.”

Drivers’ costs have been on a roller-coaster. Prices soared 49 cents per gallon between the beginning 2013 and the end of February, which was the highest increase through the end of February on record, according to AAA.

AAA is offering no assurances that prices won’t tick back up, but does not expect them to reach 2012 levels. “AAA has no record of gas prices ever peaking in February, and it is too early to say whether prices may have hit a high for the first half of the year,” Ash said.

“While it is possible that gas prices may surge briefly again this spring, the national average should remain less than last year’s high of $3.94 per gallon. Yet even with the recent declines, we cannot lose track of the fact that gasoline remains very expensive for many American motorists,” he said.

 

EPA Mandate Might Increase Gas Prices

March 20, 2013 by · Comments Off on EPA Mandate Might Increase Gas Prices 

More pain at the pump on the way?

Congress is warning gas prices — already on the upswing, these past few weeks — could go even higher, given an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandate on renewable fuels that’s about to take effect.

Refiners are paying much more for corn ethanol credits that are used to meet EPA standards on renewable fuels, Politico reports. Refiners used to pay a few cents per gallon; now, they pay more than $1 a gallon. That means refiners could pay an additional $7 billion before the end of the year — and consumers may end up helping out with costs.

“We’re just in the middle of a tornado trying to figure out what to do,” said Stephen Brown, vice president for federal and government affairs at the refining company, Tesoro, in the Politico report. “But we can all agree this is not a good thing for consumers.”

To counter growing costs, refiners can boost gasoline exports, decrease how much gas they refine — or stick it to buyers.

“I suspect a combination of all three things [are] happening with refiners,” said Bill Day, a spokesman for U.S. refiner Valero, in the Politico report.

Meanwhile, congressional energy committee members are looking for solutions. One House Energy and Commerce Committee aide said that members will be holding hearings on the EPA mandate on renewable fuels, but they have yet to set a date.

 

Report: U.S. Pump Prices Will Retreat in 2013

January 11, 2013 by · Comments Off on Report: U.S. Pump Prices Will Retreat in 2013 

Gasoline prices may retreat in 2013.

At least gasoline should cost you less in 2013.

Hamburger, health care and taxes are all set to take a bigger bite out of the family budget this year. But drivers’ annual gas bills are expected to drop for the first time in four years.

Forecasters say ample oil supplies and weak U.S. demand will keep a lid on prices. The lows will be lower and the highs won’t be so high compared with a year ago. The average price of a gallon of gasoline will fall 5% to $3.44, according to the Energy Department.

“Everything is lining up to lead to softer prices this year,” said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service.

That would still be the third-highest average price ever. But a discount of 19 cents per gallon from 2012 would save the typical household $205 this year and free up $25 billion that could go instead to restaurants, malls or movie theaters — the kind of consumer spending that accounts for 70% of American economic activity.

“It’s a little benefit to the economy, and it’s a little more reason the Fed doesn’t have to worry about inflation,” said James Hamilton, an economist at the University of California at San Diego who studies energy prices.

Forecasters caution that they can’t predict other factors like Middle East tensions, refinery problems or hurricanes along the U.S. Gulf Coast — in other words, the same events that caused gasoline prices to spike in 2011 and 2012. Any or all of those troubles could crop up again in 2013 and push pump prices above last year’s record average of $3.63 a gallon.

According to an Associated Press report, the government expected gas to average about $3 during 2011. Then came the Arab Spring, which included the shutdown of Libya’s oil production. Oil prices shot up, and gasoline averaged $3.53 for the year. The government’s forecast for last year also turned out to be too low, by 18 cents per gallon.

And, Hamilton said, consumer spending might not see a boost from lower gasoline prices because most Americans will be paying higher taxes. The expiration of last year’s payroll tax reduction will cost an extra $579 for households making $40,000 to $50,000 in 2013, according to the Tax Policy Center, a non-partisan Washington research group.

But after average gas prices rose in 2010, 2011, and 2012, a little relief will be welcome in 2013.

Click here to read the entire story.

Sandy’s Impact on Refineries Raises Crude Oil

October 30, 2012 by · Comments Off on Sandy’s Impact on Refineries Raises Crude Oil 

Crude oil prices rose toward $110 a barrel today (Oct. 29), supported by worries of potential supply disruption on the U.S. East Coast being battered by Hurricane Sandy, although fears of weaker demand from the storm-hit region capped gains.

Reuters reported that U.S. refinery and pipeline companies will begin assessing the storm damage, hoping their flood defenses and on-site power would allow operations to resume swiftly.

But even if refineries escape unscathed, any damage to the vast network of oil terminals, pipelines and trucking facilities in the region could complicate supply logistics.

Brent crude for December rose 13 cents to $109.57 a barrel in early trading, recovering from a fall to $108.75 earlier in the session. U.S. crude for December was up 40 cents at $85.94.

U.S. gasoline futures were little changed at $2.7530 a gallon, after climbing more than 5 cents on Monday on expectations of tighter supply.

“The shutdown of refineries basically means that there are breaks in the supply chain,” said Michael Hewson, senior markets analyst at CMC Markets. “(This) means there will be a little bit of scarcity, so that can still underpin prices.”

Fuel supply into the region ground almost to a halt with the closure of two-thirds of the region’s refineries, its biggest pipeline and most major ports.

Reports: Gasoline Price Tumble to Continue

October 23, 2012 by · Comments Off on Reports: Gasoline Price Tumble to Continue 

Gas prices coming down

Americans thinking about driving over the river and through the woods for Thanksgiving could be in line for a nice surprise: lower gas prices.

CNN reported that prices have fallen 3.8% over the past 11 days to a national average of $3.67 a gallon for regular, according to motorist group AAA. And analysts say the price could fall another 30 cents by Nov. 22, Thanksgiving Day.

Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at Gasbuddy.com forecasts prices falling to $3.35 a gallon by Thanksgiving. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, he sees prices in the range of $3.25 to $3.45 a gallon.

Ben Brockwell, director of data, pricing and information services with Oil Prices Information Service, also sees prices falling, although not as steeply, to below $3.50 a gallon.

One reason for the forecast: Brockwell says wholesale prices have dropped as much as 30 cents a gallon in some markets. By comparison, the national average has fallen 12 cents over the past week. By that measure, Brockwell says the recent decline still has room to run.

There is typically a lag before a decline in wholesale prices is reflected at the pump.

Gasoline Prices Begin Their Seasonal Decline

October 22, 2012 by · Comments Off on Gasoline Prices Begin Their Seasonal Decline 

This chart, courtesy of AAA, shows the average price per gallon of gasoline in the U.S. Prices are the lowest they’ve been since August.

And just like that, gasoline prices have begun to tumble.

U.S. drivers are finally seeing relief at the gas pump. The nationwide average for a gallon of gas fell nearly 5 cents over the weekend to $3.665. That’s the lowest price since early August.

The price of oil was falling today too (Oct. 22), tracking the small declines in U.S. stocks, the Associated Press reported.

Benchmark oil fell 60 cents to $89.45 a barrel in midday trading in New York. The contract fell $2.05 to end at $90.05 per barrel on Friday.

In London Brent crude fell 28 cents to $109.86 on the ICE Futures exchange.

 

N.J. Lukoil Stations Jack Gas Price to $8.99

September 13, 2012 by · Comments Off on N.J. Lukoil Stations Jack Gas Price to $8.99 

Feeling pain at the gas pump?

Gasoline prices are inching dangerously close to $4 a gallon for mid-grade gas, thanks to the disruption caused by hurricane turned Tropical Storm Isaac and other hurricanes and tropical storms, the Harrisburg, Pa., Patriot-News reported.

The result has been some of the highest gasoline costs of the year at a time when the prices often fall. Harrisburg’s record high gas was $3.99 a gallon in June 2008. On April 12, prices hit $3.97, according to GasBuddy.com.

In Harrisburg, a gallon of mid-grade gas sold on Wednesday for as low as $3.86 at US Gas at 1423 N. Sixth St. and as high as $4.35 a gallon at the Exxon at 770 Eisenhower Boulevard, Swatara Township, according to GasBuddy.

GasBuddy on Wednesday listed Pennsylvania’s average gasoline price as $3.93 a gallon and the national average as $3.86. A gallon of mid-grade gas sells for $4.34 in Hawaii compared to $3.59 in Mississippi.

“Gas prices go up when there’s less supply,” said Jason Toews, co-founder of GasBuddy. “When hurricanes bear down on the Gulf Coast , the refineries shut down. Some 25 percent of the country’s refining capacity is in the Gulf Coast.”

If you think it’s bad here, don’t go to South Plainfield, N.J., where the posted prices were an eye-popping $8.99 a gallon at a Lukoil station on Wednesday (Sept. 12).

More than 50 Lukoil gas stations jacked up prices to protest what they say are unfair pricing practices by Lukoil North America that leave them at a competitive disadvantage.

RELIEF

Toews predicts that gas prices will start to drop within 10 days.

“Harrisburg has been paying a 20 percent per-gallon hurricane premium,” he said. “By December, Harrisburg could be paying $3 to $3.20 a gallon for gas. Relief is in sight.”

This chart shows the steady rise of gas prices for the past three months in the U.S. Chart courtesy of www.gasbuddy.com.

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