Pump Prices Climb ahead of Memorial Day as Demand Rises

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Drivers to see Cheapest Memorial Day Pump Prices in Nearly Two Decades

PORTLAND, Ore., – Retail gas prices continue to climb across the country with nearly every state’s average moving higher. But drivers are enjoying the lowest gas prices for Memorial Day since the 2000s. For the week, the national average for regular adds four cents to $1.89 a gallon. The Oregon average inches up a cent to $2.40.

National State Local Gas Prices 5-19-20

The last time the national gas price average leading into the Memorial Day holiday was under $2 a gallon was 17 years ago in 2003. That year drivers paid, on average, $1.50 to fill-up. The last time the Oregon average was at or below $2.40 for Memorial Day was 15 years ago in 2005 when the average was $2.35. Gas prices this year won’t be as cheap, but prices are about a dollar a gallon less than a year ago.

Memorial Day gas prices 2010-19

“Memorial Day is usually the unofficial kick-off to the summer travel season. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, most Americans and Oregonians are staying home this year,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho. “Despite cheap gas prices, AAA expects this Memorial Day holiday to set a record low for travel volume. Although travel restrictions are easing in most states, many areas simply aren’t ready yet to welcome tourists with open arms. And many would-be travelers aren’t quite ready to hit the road yet, either.”

For the first time in 20 years, AAA will not issue a Memorial Day travel forecast due to COVID-19. Find details in the holiday news release. This summer and fall, AAA expects domestic travel and road trips to be some of the first post-coronavirus outings.

Gas prices will continue to push more expensive, according to AAA, with the national average possibly hitting $2 a gallon in the next few weeks. This is mostly due to demand increasing as states re-open. This week will also bring the Environmental Protection Agency’s waiver on the sale of winter-blend gasoline to an end. Stations will switch over to summer-blend gasoline, which has a lower Reid Vapor Pressure to prevent excessive evaporation when outside temperatures rise. Reducing the volatility of summer gas decreases emissions that contribute to unhealthy ozone and smog levels. Typically, the switchover to summer-blend can cause gas prices to spike during the summer driving season, but that will likely not be the case this year due to the impact of COVID-19 on demand and crude oil prices.

Demand for gasoline in the U.S. is rising but still well below last year’s levels. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), demand for gasoline increased by 730,000 b/d to 7.4 million b/d last week, compared to 9.1 million b/d a year ago. Gas demand is expected to continue to grow, leading pump prices to continue their increase.

Oregon is one of 47 states with higher prices now compared to one week ago. Idaho (+16 cents) and Pennsylvania (+8 cents) have the largest weekly increases. The District of Columbia (-1 cent) has the largest weekly decline.

Hawaii ($3.18) remains the only state in the nation with an average at or above $3 a gallon.

The cheapest gas in the nation can be found in Mississippi ($1.52) and Arkansas ($1.54). This is the 10th week in a row that one or more states has an average below $2 a gallon. In all, 38 states are below that benchmark, down from 39 a week ago.

Oregon is one of 23 states with lower prices now than a month ago. The national average is seven cents more and the Oregon average is nine cents less than a month ago. This is the fifth-largest monthly decline in the nation. Arizona (-14 cents) has the largest month-over-month decline while North Dakota (-1/2 cent) has the smallest. Wisconsin (+57 cents) and Ohio (+46 cents) have the biggest month-over-month increases.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have lower prices now than a year ago. The national average is 96 cents less and the Oregon average is $1.04 less than a year ago. Alaska (-$1.39) has the largest year-over-year drop. Hawaii (-47 cents) has the smallest. In all, 20 states have pump price averages that are $1/gallon or more cheaper than a year ago, down from 22 a week ago.

A reminder that Oregonians can temporarily pump their own gas due to the coronavirus outbreak and this has been extended through May 23. Stations aren’t required to offer self-serve gas, but it is allowed in order to reduce contact that could spread COVID-19, and ensure essential workers have access to fuel during potential staffing shortages at gas stations. https://www.oregon.gov/osp/programs/sfm/Pages/Self-Service-Rules-Change-FAQs.aspx

 

West Coast

Pump prices in the West Coast region are among the most expensive in the country, with more increases expected as states in the region ease restrictions.

Hawaii is most expensive for the 23rd week in a row and as mentioned above remains the only state in the nation with an average at or above $3 a gallon. California, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada round out the top 5 and Arizona is 10th. Alaska is 11th for the second week in a row. Oregon is fourth most expensive for the 16th week in a row.

Rank Region Price on 5/19/2020
1 Hawaii $3.18
2 California $2.81
3 Washington $2.47
4 Oregon $2.40
5 Nevada $2.36
6 District of Columbia $2.17
7 New York $2.17
8 Pennsylvania $2.16
9 Illinois $2.14
10 Arizona $2.09

California (+4 cents) and Nevada (+4 cents) have the largest increases in the region. Arizona (+ 1/2 cent) has the smallest.

According to EIA’s latest weekly report, total gas stocks in the region decreased from 31.2 million bbl to 30.8 million bbl last week. As more drivers take to the roads in the region this week, gas demand is expected to continue to grow. Higher gas demand, amid falling gas stocks, will likely lead pump prices to increase this week.

 

Oil market dynamics

Crude prices increased last week and moved higher to start this week. Investors are optimistic that crude demand will continue to rebound as more states re-open and demand for gasoline has grown in recent weeks. For this week, crude prices may continue to rise if the market believes that the 9.7 million b/d production reduction agreement for May and June 2020 between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other major crude exporters, including Russia, is helping to rebalance the global oil market as demand remains low due to COVID-19.

At the end of Friday’s formal trading session, WTI increased by $1.87 cents to settle at $29.43 per barrel. At the close of Monday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI gained $2.39 to $31.82. Today crude is trading around $31 compared to $26 a week ago. Crude prices are up about 248 percent in the last month and are about $31 less than a year ago.

Drivers can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

National Gas Price Comparison 5-19-20

Diesel

For the week, the national average slips a penny to $2.41 a gallon. Oregon’s average holds steady at $2.56. A year ago the national average for diesel was $3.10 and the Oregon average was $3.31.

 

Find current fuel prices at GasPrices.AAA.com.

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Find local news releases at https://www.oregon.aaa.com/category/news-releases/

Fuel prices are updated daily at AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge at AAA Gas Prices. For more info go www.AAA.com.  AAA Oregon/Idaho provides more than 820,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services, and is an affiliate of AAA National, serving more than 60 million motorists in North America.