Arkansas and Oklahoma remain in the top 10 of the nation for the cheapest gasoline prices amid a changing market that saw prices rise a dime in the past week.
It was the first increase in 10 weeks. And although Tropical Storm Imelda dumped as much as 45 inches of rain in Texas at the end of last week, industry reports show refineries are operational and the impact of the storm is not expected to have an effect on gas prices, according to AAA.
GasBuddy analyst Patrick DeHaan connected the rise in prices to the attacks on Saudi Arabia oil fields, which knocked out 5% of global daily oil production.
Arkansas gas prices have risen 8.7 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.33 a gallon on Monday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 1,826 stations. Gas prices in Arkansas are 8.3 cents per gallon higher than a month ago, yet stand 25.3 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.
The national average has risen 8.5 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $2.66 a gallon Monday. The national average is up 7.3 cents per gallon from a month ago, yet stands 17.4 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.
"While the worst is now behind us, there remain some concerns that could cause oil prices to rise further, including a fairly optimistic timeline from the Saudis that may prove challenging to meet,” DeHaane explained. “Should timelines be extended, motorists may see additional slight increases. Moving forward, expect a week of relative calm after the attacks, but as hurricane season continues to also be active, there are risks that may continue to push gas prices slightly higher in coming weeks before we get clear of such issues."
Spurred by the Saudi Arabian oil facilities attacks the weekend prior, crude oil (West Texas Intermediate – WTI) increased as much as $10 per barrel at its highest point early last week to nearly $64 per barrel, AAA noted. However, by the end of last week, crude was down to $58 per barrel and gas prices started to stabilize as reports surfaced that Saudi facilities should be fully operational by the end of September.
“The good news is we are seeing downward movement with crude oil prices and stabilization at gas pumps, but Americans can expect some fluctuation through the end of the month,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “Should Saudi’s crude production be back to full capacity shortly, the price spikes are likely to be temporary.”
Saudi Arabia has restored more than 75% of crude output lost after attacks on its facilities and will return to full volumes by early next week, a source briefed on the latest developments told Reuters on Monday.
In its latest report, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) measured U.S. demand at 8.9 million barrels per day, which is a substantial 900,000 barrels-per-day drop from the previous week and a low reading not seen since February. The decrease in demand amid the spike in crude oil prices could help to keep gas price fluctuations more moderate through the end of the month, Casselano added.
Pump prices in the Great Lakes and Central states saw the highest volatility of any region following the drone attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. Motorists in some states are paying nearly 20 cents per gallon more to fill-up as compared to last Monday. High volatility was also seen among the South and Southeast states on the week. Still, the majority of gas price averages in the region are $2.45 or cheaper, with Mississippi ($2.32), Louisiana ($2.32), Arkansas ($2.33), Alabama ($2.34), South Carolina ($2.35) and Oklahoma ($2.37) carrying the cheapest in the region and the country at the start of the work week.