The Week

Spring officially arrived last week and the Mid-Atlantic region watched gas prices go nowhere. The region saw a continued decline in gasoline supplies as refiners prepare to switch from winter-blend to summer-blend gasoline. Gasoline inventories nationally decreased by 2.8 million barrels to a total of 243.5 million barrels, 0.7% lower than a year ago but near the upper half of the average range for this time of year. Despite the decline in supply, prices in the regions remain stable on the week.

Nationally, pump prices remain relatively stable, with today’s national average price for regular unleaded gasoline holding at $2.90 per gallon. Today’s average price is unchanged compared to one week ago, but has moved fractions of a cent higher compared to last month. Drivers are paying 28 cents more per gallon at the pump compared to this same date last year.

CURRENT AND PAST GAS PRICE AVERAGES

Regular Unleaded Gasoline (*indicates record high)

 
03/24/17
Week Ago
Year Ago
National
$2.29 $2.29
$2.01
New Jersey
$2.28
$2.28
$1.78
Trenton
$2.32
$2.33
$1.80
Cape May County
$2.30
$2.29
$1.75
Burlington
$2.22
$2.22
$1.74
Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon Counties
$2.29
$2.30
$1.79
Monmouth, Ocean Counties
$2.30
$2.29
$1.79
Crude Oil

$48.05 per barrel (03/24/17)

$48.78 per barrel (03/17/17)
$39.46 per barrel (03/24/16)

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil settled at $48.05 per barrel. While prices have been flat in recent weeks, trading below $50 per barrel for the past two weeks, speculation about the balance between OPEC cuts and U.S. production drives the market. Following OPEC’s latest Joint Technical Committee (JTC) meeting, Russia agreed to drop total production by 300,000 barrels per day by the end of April and pledged to maintain that level until the deal expires at the end of June. Saudi Arabia followed the compliance meeting with news that it may consider working with partner countries to continue the cuts beyond the June agreement deadline.

The Weekend

"The delayed seasonal rise in gas prices has meant another week of relatively flat prices at the pump,” said Tracy E. Noble, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "Domestic crude oil inventories are at record levels, while the price of crude remains below the $50 mark.”

The Week Ahead

Even with OPEC’s compliance in the 90 percent range, U.S. production continues to cut into any rebalancing efforts by OPEC and non-OPEC countries. Traders will continue to watch whether OPEC and non-OPEC members make moves to further cut production in an attempt to balance the global oil supply. In addition, the switchover to summer-blended gasoline will hit gas pumps across the region in the coming weeks, likely pushing prices up.