The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. pumps fell 20.75 cents in the past two weeks to $3.5454 a gallon as Hurricane Sandy shut refineries and terminals in the Northeast, according to Lundberg Survey Inc.
The survey covers the period ended Nov. 2 and is based on information obtained from about 2,500 stations by the Camarillo, California-based company. The average is the lowest since July 27 and the decline is the steepest since December 2008. Gasoline is 42.17 cents below the year-to-date high of $3.9671 on April 6. Prices are still up 11.65 cents from a year earlier.
The storm, which landed in southern New Jersey on Oct. 29, shut filling stations, distribution terminals and Colonial Pipeline Co.’s main pipeline to the region. Phillips 66 and Hess Corp. (HES) refineries remained shut as of Nov. 2, while Philadelphia- area plants were operating.
“We have demand destruction from storm Sandy on top of much lower crude-oil prices,” Trilby Lundberg, president of Lundberg Survey, said in a telephone interview.
Gasoline futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 12.27 cents, or 4.6 percent, to $2.5736 a gallon in the two weeks ended Nov. 2, while West Texas Intermediate crude sank $5.19, or 5.8 percent, to $84.86 a barrel.
Total U.S. gasoline stockpiles rose 935,000 barrels to 199.5 million, the third consecutive increase, the Energy Department said Nov. 1.
Gasoline futures rose through the middle of the week on concern supplies would be disrupted for an extended period after Hurricane Sandy shut refineries, pipelines and terminals near New York Harbor, the delivery point for Nymex futures and the supply hub for the East Coast.
Jones Act Waiver
Prices fell at the end of the week as some of the facilities resumed operations and the Obama administration waived the Jones Act, increasing the tankers available to carry fuel up to New York from the Gulf Coast.
Customers faced miles-long lines at filling stations in New Jersey, New York City and Long Island as the storm cut power to retail pumps and wholesale terminals. The government also eased blending restrictions to increase supply to the region.
Crude inventories fell 2.05 million barrels in the week ended Oct. 26 to 373.1 million barrels, according to Energy Department data, the most for the last week of October in records begun in 1982.
Oil may rise this week as Hurricane Sandy reduces imports and U.S. inventories while refineries resume operation, a Bloomberg survey showed.
Crude May Climb
Thirteen of 30 analysts, or 43 percent, forecast crude will increase through Nov. 9. Eleven respondents, or 37 percent, predicted a drop. Six forecast little change. Last week, 44 percent of analysts projected a decline.
Regular gasoline on Long Island averaged about $3.92 a gallon, down 12 cents since Oct. 19, Lundberg said. Los Angeles- area retail stations averaged $4, down 49 cents.
The highest price in the lower 48 U.S. states among the markets surveyed was in San Francisco, where the average was $4.05 a gallon, Lundberg said. The lowest price was in Memphis, Tennessee, where customers paid an average of $3.11 a gallon.
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