Retail gasoline prices in the U.S. rose by the most since February 2011, tracking crude futures that last week capped the longest stretch of weekly advances in more than eight years.
Regular gasoline in the U.S. jumped 18 cents, or 5.4 percent, from a week earlier to $3.538 a gallon yesterday, the biggest gain since Feb. 28, 2011, according to data compiled by the Energy Information Administration, an Energy Department agency. Crude futures have risen more than $10 a barrel since mid-December and have gained eight weeks in a row, matching a streak that ended in August 2004.
Gasoline is mostly “up due to what crude has done,” David Hackett, the president of energy consultant Stillwater Associates, said by telephone from Irvine, California, yesterday. “The rest of it is because of all of the refinery work going on.”
Prices at the pump have increased seven straight weeks as the rally in crude prices led refiners to boost costs for fuel marketers. U.S. Midwest refineries operated by PBF Energy Inc. and Phillips 66 were also struck by fires last month, and fuel producers such as BP Plc and Chevron Corp. have cut production at plants to perform seasonal maintenance.
Gasoline supplies in the U.S. fell a second week in the seven days ended Jan. 25, dropping 956,000 barrels to 232.3 million, the EIA said Jan. 30. They probably rose 1.8 million barrels, or 0.8 percent, to 234.1 million in the week ended Feb. 1, according to the median of seven analyst estimates before the agency’s next report tomorrow.
U.S. gasoline consumption was unchanged at 8.32 million barrels a day in the four weeks ended Jan. 25, the EIA said.
Retail gasoline prices rose yesterday in every region of the U.S. The Midwest saw the biggest gain, increasing 22 cents to $3.513 a gallon.
PBF’s Toledo refinery in Ohio shut a fluid catalytic cracker, which produces gasoline, after a fire erupted there Jan. 30. Some units at the plant are running at reduced rates and others are on “standby,” a state in which they’re operating and not producing, the Parsippany, New Jersey-based company said in a statement a day after the blaze.
Phillips 66 also shut a crude unit at the Wood River refinery in Illinois on Jan. 12 after an electrical fire. The equipment was restarted two days later.
Retail prices will continue to rise this month as refineries halt production for seasonal maintenance, AAA said in a statement on its website Jan. 31.
Regular gasoline on the U.S. West Coast gained 19 cents yesterday to $3.738 a gallon, according to the EIA. BP, Tesoro Corp., Chevron and Valero Energy Corp. have all shut production units at their refineries in Southern California for planned maintenance.