National Average Remains Steady Despite Pipeline Issues in Southeast

The national average price of regular unleaded gasoline remained relatively stable over the past week, settling at today’s price of $2.21 per gallon. Drivers are paying the same price per gallon month-over-month, and 8 cents less per gallon year-over-year. Although today’s average remains flat compared to one week ago, pump prices have been pressured higher in some regions due to disruptions on the Colonial Pipeline.

Drivers in a number of states (25) are paying less at the pump week-over-week, although some volatility remains in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions where gasoline prices continued to see upward momentum as a result of the Colonial Pipeline disruption. Line 1 operations were restored on Wednesday of last week after more than a week of downtime following the discovery of a leak. While delivery of fuel resumed, it may take a week before affected states see any relief at the pumps.

Quick stats
Average gas prices are below $2 per gallon in five states today including Texas ($1.95), Arkansas ($1.97), Mississippi ($1.99), Louisiana ($1.99), and New Jersey ($1.99).
The nation’s top ten most expensive markets are: Hawaii ($2.81), California ($2.76), Washington ($2.62), Alaska ($2.62), Oregon ($2.53), Nevada ($2.50), Idaho ($2.43), D.C. ($2.38), Montana ($2.37) and Georgia ($2.35).

Rockies
Pump prices in the Rocky Mountains have remained relatively stable compared to other markets. There has been limited disruption to production in recent months and geographic location helps to insulate the region from coastal price swings. Drivers in four states are enjoying small weekly discounts: Wyoming (-3 cents), Idaho (-2 cents), Utah (-2 cents), North Dakota (-1 cent). Some parts of the region are also seeing significant year-over-year savings with three states making the list of top ten biggest yearly discounts: Utah (-41 cents), Wyoming (-38 cents), Idaho (-26 cents).

Great Lakes and Central States
Pump prices in the Great Lakes region continue to be the most volatile in the nation. The fluctuating prices can likely be attributed to the transport of gasoline to the southeast due to issues on the Colonial Pipeline. OPIS reports that during the pipeline disruption, large quantities of Midwest product was transported to Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina in order to mitigate supply outages. As Line 1 begins pushing supply to impacted areas, many states that saw increases early in the month are beginning to see significant weekly discounts: Ohio (-10 cents), Indiana (-8 cents) and Michigan (-7 cents).

Prices for drivers in the Central United States remain some of the cheapest in the country, although prices have followed the national average higher over the past week. Two states in the region feature in the top-15 lowest: Missouri ($2.01) and Oklahoma ($2.03).

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast
Gas prices in most of the Northeast have remained relatively steady over the past week, a large contrast to the spikes seen in much of the Mid-Atlantic region as a result of problems on the Colonial Pipeline: Virginia (+9 cents), Maryland (+6 cents), Delaware (+4 cents). States in the region suffering from tighter supplies and rising prices should begin to see some relief in the coming weeks. The completion of a bypass on Line 1 of the pipeline last Wednesday has allowed product to begin moving to impacted states, although OPIS reports that many marketers are warning that supply will still be touch-and-go through the remainder of the month.

South and Southeast
Issues on the Colonial Pipeline pressured prices higher in much of the Southeast with the most impacted states topping the nation’s list of largest weekly increases: Alabama (+8 cents), South Carolina (+7 cents), North Carolina (+5 cents), Georgia (+3 cents). The pipeline issues have also caused Georgia to make an unusual showing on the list of most expensive markets in the country, with an average price of $2.35. Recent reports from OPIS state that the worst is over for parts of the southeast impacted by the initial shutdown of Colonial Pipeline on September 9, and supply distribution should move to normal levels throughout the week.
Despite issues with the Colonial Pipeline in the Southeast, drivers in much of the Gulf Coast continue to enjoy some of the lowest prices at the pump: Texas ($1.95), Arkansas ($1.97), Mississippi ($1.99), Louisiana ($1.99), Alabama ($2.09).

West Coast
Gas prices on the West Coast continue to be the highest in the country, with every state in the region landing on the top ten list of most expensive markets: Hawaii ($2.81), California ($2.76), Washington ($2.72), Alaska ($2.63), Oregon ($2.54), Nevada ($2.50). Although high, prices at the pump have remained consistent over the past week despite a power outage at the PBF refinery in Torrance, California which interrupted regular operations. Reports from OPIS on Friday afternoon say that PBF spent the week heating up and restarting process units at the refinery, and it is projected all units would be up at the start of this week.

Oil Market Dynamics
Crude oil prices rallied Monday morning due to speculation about output reduction talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Attention is now focused on members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) next meeting, scheduled for September 26-28, where the cartel may agree to a production freeze or continue its current course of action and refrain from cutting production to maintain market share. These countries will meet informally while also attending the International Energy Forum in Algeria. The upcoming talks are the organization’s second attempt to negotiate a production freeze, after a failed meeting in April. OPEC last agreed to reduce supply in 2008 and traders will continue to watch how discussions progress this week. At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI closed down $1.84 to settle at $44.48 per barrel.

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