CASPER, Wyo. — National gas prices have increased for a fifth consecutive week, and that’s resulted in an 18-cent hike for Natrona County’s average price for a gallon of regular fuel.
The nation’s average gas price climbed 9.7 cents from a week ago to $3.49 per gallon Sunday, according to GasBuddy data. The national average is up 33.3 cents from a month ago and 14.1 cents from a year ago.
The national average price of diesel has risen 5.4 cents in the last week to stand at $4.65 per gallon.
“The national average price of gasoline has risen for the fifth straight week as retailers pass along the rise in wholesale gasoline prices due to continued challenges: refinery utilization that still hasn’t fully recovered from December’s cold weather, and refinery maintenance season that’s just around the corner,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.
AAA reported the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline at $3.50 per gallon, up 8 cents from a week ago, and placed Wyoming’s average lower at $3.42, up 11 cents from last week. Natrona County’s average gas price was $3.29 per gallon, falling behind Uinta County’s $3.28 as the second cheapest average in the state, according to AAA.
The cheapest price offered by a local station on Monday was $3.15 at both Sam’s Club, 4600 E. 2nd St., and Ridley’s Family Market, 300 SE Wyoming Blvd., followed by $3.19 at Sinclair, 902 E. 2nd St., according to GasBuddy reports.
“There appears to be little good news on the gas price front, with prices unlikely to turn around any time soon,” De Haan said. “Because of the surge in prices last spring, many refineries that had planned maintenance deferred maintenance until 2023. With the can kicked to this year, we may have similar challenges producing enough refined products to meet demand, especially with the European Union cutting off refined products from Russia starting February 5.”
Also included in GasBuddy’s report Monday:
Oil markets have been mixed over the last week with a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil down some 96 cents in early Monday trade to $78.72 per barrel, nearly $4 per barrel lower than last Monday’s $82.11 per barrel start. Brent crude oil was last down some 99 cents per barrel to $85.67 per barrel, down from last Monday’s $88.39 per barrel start. Oil markets have seen some level of sluggishness balancing the Federal Reserve, China’s re-opening, and seasonally weak U.S. demand. All eyes are on the February 5th EU sanctions on Russian refined products that could further strain global refining capacity.
According to Baker Hughes, last week’s U.S. rig count was unchanged at 771 and was 161 rigs higher than a year ago. The Canadian rig count rose 6 to 247 and was 30 rigs higher than a year ago.
OIL AND REFINED PRODUCTS
Last week’s report from the Energy Information Administration showed a slight increase in oil inventories of 500,000 barrels, with the SPR seeing no further change in the last two weeks as releases are now complete. Domestic crude oil production was changed at 12.2 million barrels per day, still some 600,000bpd higher than a year ago. Gasoline inventories rose by 1.8 million barrels in the last week but are still down roughly 16 million barrels lower than a year ago, while distillate inventories fell by a modest 500,000 barrels and are 20% below the five year average for this time of year. Implied gasoline demand, a proxy for retail gasoline consumption, rose slightly to 8.14 million barrels per day. Refinery utilization is still in recovery from December’s cold blast, but rose 0.8 percentage points to 86.1% of capacity.
According to GasBuddy demand data driven by its Pay with GasBuddy card, U.S. retail gasoline demand rose 1.2% last week (Sun-Sat) after a sluggish prior week. Broken down by PADD region, demand rose 1.1% in PADD 1, rose 0.9% in PADD 2, rose 1.3% in PADD 3, rose 9.3% in PADD 4, and rose 0.9% in PADD 5.
GAS PRICE TRENDS
The most common U.S. gas price encountered by motorists stood at $3.39 per gallon, up 20 cents from last week, followed by $3.49, $3.19, $3.29 and $3.59 rounding out the top five most common prices.
The median U.S. gas price is $3.39 per gallon, up 7 cents from last week and about 10 cents lower than the national average.
The top 10% of stations in the country average $4.37 per gallon, while the bottom 10% average $3.02 per gallon.
The states with the lowest average prices: Texas ($3.09), Oklahoma ($3.13) and Arkansas ($3.15).
The states with the highest average prices: Hawaii ($4.88), California ($4.48) and Washington ($4.03).