The US national average retail price for regular gasoline has fallen 13 cents per gallon below the summer peak of $3.68 per gallon, reached on July 22, according to US Energy Information Administration figures.
On Aug. 26 prices hit $3.55 per gallon, despite an increase in crude oil prices since early July. At $3.55 per gallon, the average US retail price for regular gasoline is 19 cents below last year’s price at that time and 3 cents below the level in 2011 leading into the Labor Day weekend. According to the American Automobile Association, gasoline prices were $3.59 per gallon Aug. 29.
Prices for retail gasoline in the US currently vary significantly by state and county. Some of the highest gasoline prices in the country are on the West Coast (see map). However, a key part of the recent decrease in the US average regular gasoline price has been the declining retail gasoline prices on the West Coast. According to EIA data, on Aug. 26, the West Coast average retail price for regular grade gasoline was $3.75 per gallon, 21 cents per gallon lower than the $3.95-per-gallon average on July 22.
The decline in retail prices on the West Coast resulted largely from a well-supplied California gasoline market. California is the largest gasoline market on the West Coast, accounting for almost two-thirds of gasoline sales in the region in 2012, and price trends in California tend to drive trends in the region as a whole. The average price for regular gasoline in California fell by 23 cents per gallon since July 22 to $3.80 per gallon on Aug. 26.
As of Aug. 23, total US gasoline inventories stood at 217.8 million barrels, 10.0 million barrels, or 5 percent, above the five-year average for that week and in the top half of the five-year range. Current US gasoline inventories are much higher than in 2011 and 2012, EIA figures show.
In August, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers and the American Petroleum Institute petitioned the EPA to lower the 18.15 billion 2014 renewable fuel mandate to about 14.8 billion gallons. The oil industry groups say the partial waver is needed to avoid “severe economic harm that will result from exceeding the 10 percent ethanol blendwall.”
Projected to occur in 2014, the 10 percent blend wall refers to the difficulty in incorporating ethanol into the fuel supply at volumes exceeding those achieved by the sale of nearly all gasoline as E10. Most gasoline sold in the US today is E10.