The fourth straight week of gas price drops puts the national average at the lowest point this summer.
Gas prices can be found as low as the $2.10 range in some places around Fort Smith, and the average price per gallon Wednesday in Arkansas was $2.317 and $2.345 in Oklahoma, according to AAA.
National average gas price posted a drop of nearly 7 cents over last week to about $2.63 per gallon; data from GasBuddy also shows the average price of diesel fell 1.9 cents to $2.95 per gallon.
“The national average price of gasoline has now fallen to the lowest level of the summer, but even better, the lowest since March as gas stations pass along the recent drop in oil prices brought on by the U.S./China trade rift,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.
AAA noted in its weekly Fuel Gauge Report the 7-cent drop on the week is tied to domestic gasoline stocks being increased by about 4.4 million barrels. This is based on the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest data. Contributing to the build was at least 1.2 million barrels per day of imports at U.S. ports. With the large bump, stocks now sit at 235 million barrels — a U.S. stock level not seen in nearly five months, AAA noted.
“On the week, nearly half of all states saw gas price averages decrease by at least a nickel,” Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson, said Monday. “While gasoline demand increased week-over-week, it wasn’t enough to stay on pace with the huge jump in gasoline stocks. Therefore, pump prices continue to decline across the country.”
Today’s national gas price average is 13-cents less than a month ago and 21-cents cheaper than a year ago, Casselano stated.
The Energy Information Administration’s weekly report also showed crude oil inventories increased by 1.6 million barrels to a total of 440.5 million barrels. At this level, inventories are 26.3 million barrels above last year (6.4%) and are about 3% higher than the five year average for this time of year. Inventories at the major delivery point in Cushing, Oklahoma, fell 2.6 million barrels to a total of 44.8 million barrels.
Gasoline inventories decreased by 1.4 million barrels to a total of 233.8 million barrels. At this level, inventories are up 0.6 million barrels, or 0.3% higher than a year ago and are about 4% higher than five-year average range for this time of year.
DeHaan noted the drops in gas prices could slow in the weeks ahead as some OPEC members talk about cutting oil production to stem the recent drop in oil prices.
“Oil markets are attempting to balance trade concerns between the U.S. and China and also the possibility of another oil production cut from OPEC,” DeHaan wrote. “The threat of production cuts will likely linger into this week, should oil prices remain under pressure.”
According to the EIA, total oil stocks in the United States are up by 83.9 million barrels (6.8%) versus a year ago and stand at 1.31 billion barrels (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve).
The U.S. imported 7.71 million barrels of crude oil per day last week, up by 566,000 barrels per day compared to the previous week. Meanwhile, crude oil exports rose 818,000 barrels per day to 2.6 million barrels per day.