Retail gasoline prices declined for a second time since a March peak in the Lundberg Survey as U.S. refineries ran at the highest seasonal rates in a decade.
The average price of regular gasoline in the U.S. fell 5.11 cents in the three weeks ended April 10 to $2.4480 a gallon, according to Lundberg Survey Inc. The survey is based on data collected from about 2,500 filling stations by the Camarillo, California-based company. Prices are $1.16 lower than a year ago.
Gasoline fell from its recent March 6 peak of $2.5384 a gallon as refineries finished seasonal maintenance and raised processing rates. Refiners and retailers both narrowed their gasoline margins amid an environment of high demand, according to Trilby Lundberg, the president of Lundberg Survey.
“The surging gasoline demand is encouraging refiners and retailers to cut price whenever they can in order to chase sales,” Lundberg said in a telephone interview on Sunday.
The highest price for gasoline in the lower 48 states among the markets surveyed was in San Francisco, at $3.13 a gallon, Lundberg said. The lowest price was in Charleston, South Carolina, where customers paid an average $2.10 a gallon. Regular gasoline averaged $2.52 a gallon on Long Island, New York, and $3.09 in Los Angeles.
West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark priced in Cushing, Oklahoma, rose $5.92, or 13 percent, to $51.64 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange in the three weeks to April 10.
Gasoline futures on the Nymex meanwhile climbed 1 cent, or 0.5 percent, to $1.8073 a gallon from March 20 to April 10.
U.S. refineries have increased rates for five straight weeks. They ran at 90.1 percent of capacity in the week ended April 3, up from 89.4 percent a week earlier and the highest seasonal level since 2005, U.S. Energy Information Administration data show.
Gasoline inventories climbed 817,000 barrels in the same period to 229.9 million, according to the EIA.
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