The national average price of gas has fallen for 24 consecutive days due to abundant refinery production, even as geopolitical tensions gain global attention. Russia and Ukraine returned to the forefront this past week when Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 crashed in eastern Ukraine in an area controlled by pro-Russian separatists. Additionally, intensifying violence between Israeli and Hamas forces in Gaza has drawn headlines and concerns that the conflict could have a broader regional impact. Despite these issues, oil markets remain relatively unaffected because there has not been an impact to supply or distribution. Meanwhile, domestic refinery utilization reached its highest level of the year last week, which has helped to push gas prices lower.
Today’s national average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $3.57 per gallon, which is the lowest price since April 4. Today’s price is four cents less than one week ago, 11 cents less than one month ago, and the national average has now declined for 24 straight days. In comparison to this same date last year, drivers are saving nearly a dime per gallon at the pump. Today marks the seventh consecutive day with gas prices cheaper than a year ago. This streak comes after prices remained higher than last year for 52 straight days.
Pacific states continue to lead the market with the highest prices per gallon, led by Hawaii ($4.34), Alaska ($4.14) and California ($4.04). Despite the high cost in many states, drivers across the country have seen gas prices finally move lower over the past several weeks. Prices have fallen over the past fourteen days in 47 states and Washington D.C., led by ten states – mainly in the Midwest – where prices are at least ten cents lower. None of the states where motorists are paying a two-week premium have seen an increase of more than two cents: Wyoming and Hawaii (up fractions of a cent) and Idaho (+2 cents).
Year-over-year and month-over-month comparisons also show overall savings in the retail prices paid by many motorists. Compared to the same date last year, consumers in 40 states and Washington D.C. are paying less at the pump. In 25 states, drivers are saving a dime or more per gallon, with the biggest savings once again occurring in Midwestern states, led by six states where prices have tumbled 20 cents or more: Illinois (-32 cents), Kansas (-24 cents), Minnesota (-24 cents), Indiana (-23 cents), Missouri (-21 cents) and Michigan (-21 cents). Month-over-month comparisons show that drivers in 42 states and Washington D.C. are experiencing some relief at the pump. Prices in eight states have increased during this span, led by Idaho (+8 cents), Utah (+6 cents) and Wyoming (+5 cents).
Prior to the crash of flight MH17, the Obama Administration announced a new round of sanctions against Russia’s energy and financial sectors. Members of NATO and the European Union are also debating stronger sanctions against Russia, which could potentially impact global markets. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices have increased over the last several trading sessions after falling to a multi-month low below $100 last Tuesday. At the close of formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI settled $1.46 higher at $104.59 per barrel.