The Week

Gas prices continued their downward trend, with motorists across the country enjoying year-over-year price relief at the pump, including declines of more than 40 cents per gallon in some states.  Gas prices continued their downward trend, as motorists enjoy year-over-year price relief at the pump with declines in some states at 40 cents per gallon or more.  The national gas price average dropped to $3.56 on Friday.  This price is seven cents below the week-ago price, 15 cents below the month-ago price, and 35 cents less expensive than the year-ago price.  Today’s 35-cent year-over-year decline is the largest such mark since October 2009. The national average has now fallen for nine straight days and 38 of 44 days since the peak 2013 price to date of $3.79 on Feb. 27.  In 2012, the price peaked at $3.94 on April 5.

Although crude oil prices saw slight ups and downs this week, its general downward movement over the past six weeks compared to earlier in the year has been one of many factors leading to recent declines at the gas pump.  In addition to lower crude oil prices, refinery maintenance completion, increased production and lower demand have all contributed to falling gas prices.  Crude oil moved lower upon news that three top forecasters – the International Energy Agency (IEA), the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) – all revised their demand growth forecasts for the year this week stating that a slow-to-recover U.S. economy and economic concerns throughout Europe have eroded demand for fuel.  Crude oil closed at $93.51 per barrel on Thursday, on-par with Monday’s close.  As of midday Friday, the commodity was trading lower around the $90 per barrel range.

In its weekly report, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) data showed crude oil stocks rose 250,000 barrels to 388.9 million barrels.  The total amount of crude oil on hand is more than 40 million barrels ahead of the five-year average.  Gasoline stocks rose by 1.7 million barrels to 222.4 million barrels.  Gasoline demand did not see a large week-to-week drop, but at 8.477 million barrels, the numbers for this time of year do not inspire much confidence for gasoline.  It has been 10 years since gasoline demand has been this low in early April as typically, demand figures are near and north of 9 million barrels. Even during the recessionary years in 2009-2010, early-April demand was still topping 9 million barrels. The four-week demand average is closing in on a 2.5 percent contraction.

The Weekend

“Falling prices are a result of a combination of factors: lower crude prices, refineries are finishing up their spring maintenance earlier this year, and the fact that motorists are driving fewer miles,” said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “Motorists may have seen the highest prices of the year come and go.  Barring unforeseen circumstances, AAA predicts the average price of gas in 2013 will be lower than 2012’s average of $3.60 a gallon, which is the highest annual average ever recorded by AAA.”

The Week Ahead

In its “Short-Term Energy and Summer Fuels Outlook,” the EIA reports that during the April-through-September summer driving season this year, the agency forecasts regular gasoline retail prices to average $3.63 per gallon.  This would be the lowest in three years, down six cents from $3.69 a gallon a year ago and off 8 cents from the $3.71 average in 2011.  The projected monthly average regular retail gasoline price falls from $3.69 per gallon in May to $3.57 per gallon in September.  EIA expects regular gasoline retail prices to average $3.56 per gallon in 2013 and $3.39 per gallon in 2014, compared with $3.63 per gallon in 2012.  Factors contributing to the projected decline in gas price include lower crude oil prices, increased domestic crude production, fewer vehicle miles traveled and increased fuel economy in U.S. vehicles. 

CURRENT AND PAST GAS PRICE AVERAGES

Regular Unleaded Gasoline (*indicates record high)

 

04/12/13

Week Ago

Year Ago

National

$3.56

$3.63

$3.91

New Jersey

$3.39

$3.46

$3.79

Trenton

$3.44

$3.52

$3.84

Cape May County

$3.38

$3.43

$3.80

Burlington County

$3.32

$3.40

$3.78

Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon

$3.39

$3.46

$3.80

Monmouth, Ocean Counties

$3.40

3.46

$3.78

Crude Oil

$91.53 per barrel

$93.03 per barrel

$103.64 per barrel

 

 

AAA is the most comprehensive resource for gas prices and its reports reflect actual prices from credit card transactions at more than 100,000 gas stations in the U.S.

AAA has a variety of resources to help motorists save on fuel:

AAA Mid-Atlantic, serves nearly four million members in parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and throughout Delaware, Maryland and the District of Columbia, and is on the Web at aaa.com/community.