The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) report for the week ending February 26 shows refinery capacity at 56%, which is the lowest rate recorded by the agency. It is also 12 percentage points below last week and 18 percentage points lower than a year ago. EIA data also points to a decrease in gasoline stocks down to 243.4 million bbl, which is 3.5% below levels at the end of February 2020.
With refinery utilization at a record low, gasoline supplies tightening, demand modestly increasing and crude prices on the rise, cheap prices are in the rear view mirror for the immediate future.
Today’s national average is nearly 40 cents more expensive compared to a year ago, which was right before state lockdowns and working/school from home started.
The nation’s top 10 largest weekly increases: Utah (+21 cents), Wyoming (+15 cents), Idaho (+13 cents), New Mexico (+12 cents), Florida (+10 cents), Oklahoma (+10 cents), Montana (+10 cents), Colorado (+9 cents), Alaska (+9 cents) and Arkansas (+9 cents).
The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets: Mississippi ($2.44), Louisiana ($2.47), Texas ($2.50), Missouri ($2.50), South Carolina ($2.51), Alabama ($2.51), Arkansas ($2.55), Kentucky ($2.56), Tennessee ($2.57) and North Carolina ($2.57).
Oil Market Dynamics
At the close of Friday’s formal trading session, WTI increased by $2.26 to settle at $66.09. At the end of last week, OPEC+ announced the decision to add only about 170,000 barrels per day to world markets in April. The industry had been expecting a production increase of about 1.5 million barrels per day in April, with more oil released in May, June, and beyond. This decision sent crude oil surging to the highest price point since April 2019. For this week, prices may continue to increase if the market remains optimistic about crude demand as vaccines become more widespread.