Has the gas price drop stopped?

Ragina C Ali, Mid-Atlantic AAA

Across most of Maryland this week, the drop has stopped at the pump. An increase in crude oil prices and a drop in gasoline inventories along the East Coast are pushing prices up in some areas. This is typically a time when late summer/early fall decreased demand (ahead of the switchover to winter-blend gasoline) usually pushes prices lower. Despite the increases, Maryland drivers are still paying almost 40 cents less per gallon than just one year ago.

The gas price average in Maryland today is $2.44, which is up to three cents in the last week, down 13 cents in the last month and is 39 cents lower than on this date last year.

Today’s national gas price average is $2.57, unchanged in the last week, down seven cents in the last month and down 28 cents from this time last year.


CURRENT AND PAST GAS PRICE AVERAGES 

Regular Unleaded Gasoline

 Today Week Ago Month Ago Year Ago
 National $2.57 $2.57 $2.64 $2.85
 Maryland $2.44 $2.41 $2.57 $2.83
 Annapolis $2.39 $2.34 $2.50 $2.80
 Baltimore $2.39 $2.35 $2.52 $2.81
 Cumberland $2.55 $2.62 $2.78 $2.93
 Frederick $2.43 $2.39 $2.56 $2.84
 Hagerstown $2.49 $2.50 $2.59 $2.86
 Salisbury $2.38 $2.31 $2.44 $2.76
 Washington Suburbs(MD only) $2.55 $2.56 $2.71 $2.91
 Crude Oil $54.85per barrel(9/13/19) $56.52per barrel(9/6/19) $54.87per barrel(8/16/19) $68.99per barrel(9/14/18)

At the close of NYMEX trading Friday, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil settled at $54.85 per barrel, $1.67 lower than last Friday’s close. Crude prices were on the rise earlier in the week, as investors reacted to the prospect of continued OPEC production cuts. Prices bounced around a bit Wednesday following the firing of John Bolton, the U.S. National Security Advisor and later fell as doubts began to surface of a U.S. – China trade deal.

The Weekend

Gasoline demand in early September generally declines as refineries prepare for the switchover to winter-blend gasoline and undergo maintenance,” says Ragina C. Ali, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Current higher crude prices and decreasing gasoline stocks along the East Coast may temporarily interrupt this seasonal price decline.”

The Week Ahead

Gasoline refineries are in the midst of switching over from summer-blend gasoline to winter-blend gasoline, which is less expensive to produce, passing the savings along to motorists this time of year. The federally mandated switchover date for gasoline retailers is September 15.  In its Short Term Energy Outlook released this week, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts WTI crude oil will average $55 per barrel in the fourth quarter of 2019 and an average of $57 per barrel in 2020.  The agency also noted a national gas price average of $2.56 per gallon in the fourth quarter of 2019, down from $2.62 per gallon as previously forecasted.


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