CINCINNATI – Americans are filling up at the pump more and more. Since mid-May, gasoline demand has increased 18% to 7.9 million b/d, according to the latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) report.
The slow, but steady rise in demand has pushed the national pump price more expensive by 13% in the same timeframe. Today’s national average is $2.10. That is seven cents more on the week, 24 cents more on the month, but 59 cents cheaper on the year.
“As Americans drive more, they are re-fueling gasoline demand levels, which is helping to lift pump prices, said Jenifer Moore, AAA spokesperson. “Higher demand will contribute to increasing gas prices in the coming weeks, but they aren’t going to spike to typical summer prices. That’s because demand won’t be sufficient enough to drive down stocks levels. Gasoline stocks sit at a significant surplus of nearly 24 million bbl year-over-year.”
Today, only one-third of state averages are $1.99 per gallon or less and the majority of those are states in the South and Southeast.
Eight Great Lakes and Central state averages pushed more expensive by double-digits on the week. Nebraska (+12 cents), Kansas (+11 cents) and Wisconsin (+11 cents) had the largest increases in the region and land among the top 10 states with the biggest weekly jump. Illinois (+1 cent) and Indiana (+2 cents) saw the smallest weekly increases seen in the region. State averages in the region range from $1.84 to $2.30.
The large price swings are surprising given that regional gasoline stocks and refinery utilization both held steady on the week at 54 million bbl and 75%, respectively, according to EIA data. Typically large jumps at the pump coincide with a large draw in stocks. However, this region typically sees high volatility in price swings from week to week. It’s likely many of the states which saw large increases in the last week will see smaller increases in the week ahead.
Oil market dynamics
At the end of Friday’s formal trading session, WTI decreased by eight cents to settle at $36.34 per barrel. Domestic crude prices decreased last week amid increased market concern that an increase in new coronavirus infections could lead to another reduction in crude demand.
Additionally, EIA’s weekly report showed that total domestic crude inventories grew by 5.7 million bbl last week, bringing the total to 538.1 million bbl. The increase in crude supplies also helped to push prices lower, since it signals that domestic crude production may need to reduce further in order to meet lower than normal demand. If these trends continue this week, crude prices could decline further.
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to 60 million members nationwide and nearly two and a half million members in Ohio. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.