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Recent gasoline prices above last year, but 2013 year-to-date average lower than 2012

graph of regular U.S. unleaded gasoline prices, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Weekly Retail Gasoline Prices.

The average retail price of regular gasoline was $3.65 per gallon on Monday, July 29, 15 cents per gallon higher than a year ago, according to EIA's latest weekly survey. However, the average regular retail gasoline price for all of 2013 so far remains about 5 cents per gallon, or 1%, down from the average price over the same period last year. Prices varied greatly by regional market so far in 2013 (see graphs below). This year, crude prices and refinery availabilities have driven price trends.

graph of weekly retail gasoline prices by region, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Weekly Retail Gasoline Prices.

Key regional findings on gasoline price trends include

  • East Coast (PADD 1). Average gasoline prices were down 7 cents per gallon during the first half of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012, but as of July 29 they were 15 cents above their year-ago level. However, 2013 average prices through July were 5 cents below the same period a year ago.
  • Midwest (PADD 2). While July 29, 2013 prices were 6 cents above their year-ago level, average year-to-date gasoline prices through July 29 were the same as in 2012. Planned and unplanned refinery maintenance as well as longer-term refinery upgrading projects over the past few months reduced gasoline production in the Midwest, drawing down gasoline inventories and pushing gasoline prices higher. As a result, Midwest daily average retail prices have fluctuated widely during 2013. On a state-level basis, prices were even more volatile. Several states reflected big gasoline price ranges including Minnesota, North Dakota, and Michigan.
  • Gulf Coast (PADD 3). Average year-to-date U.S. Gulf Coast gasoline prices in 2013 are about 6 cents per gallon below their 2012 level, chiefly reflecting lower prices for the Light Louisiana Sweet (LLS) crude oil. However, as of July 15, PADD 3 gasoline prices had risen 15 cents from the previous week, up 24 cents per gallon compared to the same time a year ago. By July 29, prices rose to average $3.48 per gallon, 17 cents above the same week in 2012. Despite the recent increase in prices, compared to other regions, gasoline prices in PADD 3 have been relatively stable in 2013. This price stability occurred despite higher growth in gasoline demand than in other regions.
  • Rocky Mountain (PADD 4). Gasoline prices so far in 2013 have reflected a wide range in PADD 4 because of the low price at the start of the year and the spillover effects from PADD 2 refinery maintenance. As of July 29, PADD 4 gasoline prices were 17 cents per gallon higher than a year ago, but the year-to-date 2013 average price remains 42 cents below the same period of 2012.
  • West Coast (PADD 5). As of July 29, West Coast retail gasoline prices were 22 cents per gallon higher compared to the same time in 2012, but they were 9 cents per gallon on average lower year-to-date compared to 2012, the largest decline of any region. Refinery maintenance resulted in several sharp increases in wholesale gasoline prices in PADD 5 during the first half of 2013, but only one increase beginning in January significantly affected retail prices. Because of a combination of stringent environmental requirements and taxes, West Coast retail gasoline prices are generally the highest in the Lower 48 states (see chart below).

graph of retail gasoline price range, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration and the American Automobile Association.

For a more in-depth assessment of U.S. and regional gasoline markets, see EIA's July 3 issue of This Week in Petroleum: A Look at U.S. Gasoline Markets.

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