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Gasoline prices prior to Labour Day lowest in 12 years

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The US average retail price for regular gasoline was US$2.24/gal. on 29 August, the lowest price on the Monday before Labour Day since 2004, and US$0.27/gal. lower than the same time last year. Lower crude oil prices are the main factor behind falling US gasoline prices. Lower crude oil prices reflect continued high global crude oil and petroleum product inventories and increased drilling activity in the US.

The US average retail gasoline price increased US$0.51/gal. since the recent low point in mid-February, when gasoline prices averaged US$1.72/gal. The rise in gasoline prices was the result of higher crude oil prices and strong demand during the summer driving season.

On a regional basis, average gasoline prices range from US$2.59/gal. in the West Coast region to US$2.01/gal. in the Gulf Coast region. The West Coast, particularly California, has the highest gasoline prices among states surveyed in EIA's weekly Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Update, which is the result of a tightly balanced gasoline market, tighter environmental specifications, and higher taxes in West Coast states. As of 26 August, gasoline prices averaged US$2.71/gal. in California and US$2.74/gal. and US$2.75/gal. in Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively.

The Gulf Coast region, where much of the nation's petroleum refinery capacity is located, continues to have some of the lowest-priced gasoline in the nation, averaging US$2.01/gal. for the region and US$1.97/gal. in Houston.

As fall approaches and US driving decreases, lower gasoline demand, shifts to less costly winter fuel specifications, and reduced crude oil purchases by refineries undergoing seasonal maintenance have the potential to put downward pressure on crude oil and gasoline prices. In the August Short-Term Energy Outlook, EIA forecasts US regular gasoline prices will decline to an average of US$1.95/gal. during the fourth quarter of 2016 and will average US$2.06/gal. for 2016.

Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

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