U.S. Gasoline Cheapest Since Mid-May After Rout at Pumps

Drivers paid an average $2.8328 a gallon for regular gasoline at U.S. pumps over the past two weeks, the lowest since May 15, according to Lundberg Survey Inc.

Retail prices slid 1.66 cents in the period through July 10 and are down 3.34 cents since June 12. Gasoline was cheapest in Jackson, Mississippi, at $2.42 a gallon, according to the survey, which is based on information obtained at about 2,500 filling stations by the Camarillo, California-based company.

Gasoline retreated at U.S. pumps in the past month as falling crude-oil prices reduced refiners’ costs for producing the motor fuel. Nationwide gasoline supplies rose 1.2 million barrels to 218 million in the week ended July 3, the biggest increase since April, government data showed. Retail gasoline is almost 84 cents lower than a year ago, according to Lundberg.

“The slide in crude-oil prices has been a gift to refiners, who are passing those cost cuts through the system and down to the consumer,” said Trilby Lundberg, president of the survey. “It’s likely we’ll see another national decline at the pump as refiners continue slashing wholesale prices for retailers and distributors.”

West Texas Intermediate slipped $6.89 to $52.74 a barrel in the period covered by the survey. Gasoline futures declined 3.2 cents to $2.0165 a gallon in that same time.

Gasoline demand at 9.53 million barrels a day in the week ended July 3 was the lowest since June 12, according to Energy Information Administration data.

Los Angeles had the highest price for motor fuel in the contiguous 48 states among markets surveyed, at $3.66 a gallon. Gasoline was $2.94 in Long Island, New York.

California ’Crisis’

A separate survey showed that California drivers paid an average $3.6073 a gallon for regular gasoline on July 11, about 12 cents higher than the previous day, according to Lundberg.

“Southern California markets are experiencing a supply crisis because of refinery issues,” Lundberg said.

Los Angeles-area refineries operated by Phillips 66, Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp. were said to be producing at reduced rates last week due to maintenance, people familiar with the matter said July 10. Exxon Mobil Corp. continued work on multiple units at its Torrance, California, site, including a fluid catalytic cracker that was damaged in an explosion in February.

Stockpiles of gasoline on the U.S. West Coast fell to 27.8 million barrels in the seven days to July 3, about 1.5 percent below the five-year seasonal average, government data shows.

Area refineries operated at 86.8 percent of capacity during that time. The figure compares with a nationwide utilization rate of 94.7 percent.

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