The US average retail price for gasoline was US$2.24/gal. on 23 May, US$0.50/gal. lower than at the same time last year, and the lowest average price just before Memorial Day weekend (the start of the summer driving season) since 2009. Lower gasoline prices reflect lower crude oil prices, with the spot price of North Sea Brent crude US$19/bbl lower than at the same time last year, despite a price increase of more than US$17/bbl since the last week of January.
Average retail gasoline prices for all regions of the country are below their year ago values. The West Coast price is the highest at US$2.64/gal., even though it is US$0.87/gal. lower than at the same time last year, as the supply disruption that began in 2015 is expected to end once ExxonMobil's Torrance refinery in California resumes full operation. Gasoline prices on the West Coast are often higher than the US average because the West Coast market is finely balanced between supply and demand and is relatively isolated from additional supply sources.
Average retail gasoline prices are lowest on the Gulf Coast, at US$1.99/gal on 23 May. Gulf Coast gasoline prices are often lower than the US average because the region is home to half of US refining capacity but has a smaller share of demand, with a large share of its additional supply sent to the East Coast by pipeline.
The EIA's 'May Short Term Energy Outlook' (STEO) forecasts the US monthly gasoline price to average US$2.21/gal. during the 2016 summer driving season (April through September), US$0.42/gal. lower than the average 2015 summer driving season gasoline price. The EIA projects the US regular gasoline retail price to average US$2.08/gal in 2016 and US$2.24/gal in 2017.
Adapted from press release by Francesca Brindle
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