The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. pumps fell 7.61 cents in the past two weeks to $3.5985 a gallon, according to Lundberg Survey Inc.
Conducted on Aug. 9, the survey is based on information obtained at about 2,500 filling stations across the U.S. by the Camarillo, California-based company. The average, which reached a year-to-date peak of $3.795 in the period ended Feb. 22, is 9.22 cents below the year-earlier price of $3.6907 a gallon.
The decline “comes mostly from a tremendous performance by U.S. refiners,” Trilby Lundberg, president of Lundberg Survey, said yesterday in a telephone interview. “They have been producing so much gasoline that it verges on a glut. To move these plentiful gallons, they have been slashing their wholesale prices to their marketers and retailers.”
The highest prices for gasoline in the lower 48 U.S. states among the markets surveyed were in Chicago and San Diego, where the average was $3.92 a gallon, Lundberg said.
The lowest was in Charleston, South Carolina, where customers paid an average of $3.27 a gallon. Regular gasoline averaged $3.87 a gallon on Long Island, New York, and $3.91 in Los Angeles.
Lundberg said that there would probably be a continued, though smaller, decline in gasoline prices over the next two weeks, assuming that crude oil prices remain relatively stable.
“Refiners’ price cutting in the wholesale market has continued, so a bit more of this may reach the pumps in coming days,” she said.
Gasoline futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 13.62 cents, or 4.5 percent, to $2.9082 a gallon in the two weeks to Aug. 9.
Prices slipped as inventories increased and President Barack Obama’s administration eased concern that higher ethanol blending costs will curb fuel supply.
The Environmental Protection Agency said Aug. 6 that refiners and blenders would have four extra months to meet this year’s requirement to blend 13.8 billion gallons of ethanol into gasoline under the 2007 Renewable Fuels Standard. The EPA also announced that it “anticipates proposing adjustments” to next year’s level, which is set to reach 14.4 billion gallons.
U.S. gasoline stockpiles rose 135,000 barrels in the week ended Aug. 2 to 223.6 million, the highest level for this time of year in weekly data going back to 1990, according to the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department.
West Texas Intermediate oil on the Nymex gained $1.27, or 1.2 percent, to $105.97 a barrel in the two weeks ended Aug. 9. Prices were supported by nationwide inventories that as of Aug. 2 were the lowest since January at 363.3 million barrels. Stockpiles at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for WTI, fell 2.25 million barrels to 39.9 million that week, the lowest level since March 2012.