Gas prices tick down again, but storm impacts linger
The national average for a gallon of gas fell more than penny last week as refineries continue to boost production in the wake of the late summer hurricanes.
At $2.45, the price of a gallon of regular unleaded is 17 cents lower than the 2017 peak reached in early September, when Hurricane Harvey disrupted production along the Gulf Coast.
Prices have fallen for six straight weeks, but are still nearly a quarter higher than they were a year ago, according to AAA.
“The residual impact of last month’s hurricanes linger,” said AA’s Jeanette Casselano. “Drivers continue to pay in excess of 20 cents more for a gallon of gasoline than they did in 2016, which may prove challenging for those looking to put away some extra cash for the holidays.”
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that gasoline inventories rose nearly 1 million barrels last week and refinery production ticked up a little more than 1 percent. Both factors helped drive prices lower, said Patrick DeHaan, chief petroleum analyst at Gas Buddy, who expects the decline to continue for the next few weeks.
Prices rose in some areas of the Midwest in the past week as refineries in the region undergo seasonal maintenance, causing a drop in inventory. Wholesale prices in the Great Lakes are 20 cents higher than along the Gulf Coast, where they are lowest, DeHaan said.
“Regional hotspots like this may continue in the weeks ahead as gas stations come closer to fully passing along lower gas prices after Harvey and now become subject to new factors driving prices up and down,” DeHann said.
Drivers in San Francisco paid $3.07, the highest per-gallon prices in the contiguous U.S., compared to the $2.14 average in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Ten states, led by Georgia, South Carolina and Florida, saw declines of 20 cents or more per gallon. At $2.19, Arkansas and Missouri boast the lowest prices in the country this week.