CASPER, Wyo. — After nearly a month and a half of rising gas prices that brought Natrona County’s average fuel price from $2.18 per gallon after Christmas to $3.29 last week, drivers will see slight relief today as both averages fell 4 cents.
The 4.4-cent drop this week marks the first time gas prices have fallen in 2023, according to GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan. That brings the national average to $3.44 on Sunday, GasBuddy’s data show. The national average is up 17.5 cents from a month ago and is 1.7 cents per gallon higher than a year ago.
The national average price of diesel has fallen 5.2 cents in the last week to stand at $4.60 per gallon.
“For the first time in 2023, the national average price of gasoline has seen a weekly decline, primarily thanks to a sharp and sudden drop in the price of oil,” said De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “While the decline in both gasoline and diesel prices is terrific, it’s not unusual to see prices falling in February, which tends to be the month with some of the lowest gasoline prices of the year thanks to seasonally weak demand.
“For diesel, we’re likely to see more declines, and potentially much more significant ones in the weeks ahead as imports of distillate have accelerated, leading to a sell-off. And, with warmer weather ahead, demand may struggle as well.”
“However, especially for gasoline, high levels of coming maintenance and the eventual transition to summer gasoline could lead today’s declines to reverse down the road,” De Haan added. “For now, motorists should enjoy the decline, but be wary as we’re likely to eventually see increases again down the road.”
AAA reported the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline at $3.47 per gallon, down 3 cents from a week ago, and placed Wyoming’s average lower at $3.43, up 1 cent from last week. Natrona County’s average gas price was $3.25 per gallon, falling behind Big Horn County’s $3.17 and Sheridan County’s $3.21 for the third cheapest average in the state, according to AAA.
The cheapest price offered by local stations on Monday was $3.09 at both Sam’s Club, 4600 E. 2nd St., and Ridley’s Family Market, 300 SE Wyoming Blvd., followed by $3.17 at Flying J, 41 SE Wyoming Blvd., according to GasBuddy reports.
Also included in GasBuddy’s report Monday:
Oil markets have seen a large sell-off over the last week, with crude oil futures shedding significant value over the last week. As of early Monday trade, a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil was holding at $73.94 per barrel, up 55 cents on the day, but nearly $5 lower than last Monday’s $78.72 per barrel start. Brent crude oil also saw overnight gains amidst a large weekly loss, and was last up 90 cents per barrel to $80.84 per barrel, after briefly dipping below $80 to close last week. Brent crude was also down over $5 per barrel from last Monday’s early trade. Some of the weakness has been thanks to a stronger U.S. dollar after last week’s solid jobs report, making crude oil more expensive to those trading in other currencies, weakening demand. In addition, last week’s data from the EIA showed builds in oil, gasoline, and distillate inventories, adding to the weakness.
According to Baker Hughes, last week’s U.S. rig count was down 12 rigs to 759 but was 146 rigs higher than a year ago. The Canadian rig count rose 2 to 249 and was 31 rigs higher than a year ago.
OIL AND REFINED PRODUCTS
Last week’s report from the Energy Information Administration showed gains in oil, gasoline, and distillate inventories and seasonally soft demand. Oil inventories rose by 4.1 million barrels and stand 9% above last year and are also some 4% above the five-year average for this time of year. The SPR was again unchanged as releases have concluded. Gasoline inventories rose by 2.6 million barrels but are still some 6% lower than a year ago and 7% below the five-year average for this time of year. Distillate inventories rose by 2.3 million barrels and are 4% below last year, while also holding some 17% below the five-year average for this time of year. Implied gasoline demand stood at 8.49 million barrels, a nearly 350,000 bpd jump over the prior week, which is likely overstated, according to GasBuddy figures. Refinery utilization saw a slight 0.4 percentage point decline compared to last week’s data, while imports of crude oil jumped nearly 1.4 million barrels per day to 7.28 million.
According to GasBuddy demand data driven by its Pay with GasBuddy fuel card, U.S. retail gasoline demand rose 2.2% last week (Sun-Sat). Broken down by PADD region, demand rose 4.6% in PADD 1, rose 6.1% in PADD 2, fell 10.1% in PADD 3, rose 1.3% in PADD 4, and rose 2.7% in PADD 5.
GAS PRICE TRENDS
The most common U.S. gas price encountered by motorists stood at $3.39 per gallon, unchanged from last week, followed by $3.29, $3.19, $3.49, and $3.09 rounding out the top five most common prices.
The median U.S. gas price is $3.35 per gallon, down 4 cents from last week and about 9 cents lower than the national average.
The top 10% of stations in the country average $4.42 per gallon, while the bottom 10% average $2.95 per gallon.
The states with the lowest average prices: Oklahoma ($3.05), Texas ($3.06), and Mississippi ($3.10).
The states with the highest average prices: Hawaii ($4.88), California ($4.54), and Washington ($4.04).