At $2.74, the national gas price average increased a nickel on the week and is eight cents more than last year at this time. And compared to one month ago, gas prices are 28 cents more expensive. As demand holds steady and inventories continue to tighten, motorists continue to see gas prices increase in every region.
“Gas prices are increasing across the country, but these changes vary by region,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “On the week, motorists in the West Coast, Rockies, Great Lakes and Central regions are seeing some of the largest weekly increases while prices mostly east of the Mississippi have made more moderate jumps.”
As overall refinery utilization stands at 86% compared to 93% last year at this time, unexpected and planned maintenance continues to be one of the leading factors in why gas prices have continued to trend more expensive.
According to AAA on the West Coast:
Pump prices in the West Coast region are the highest in the nation, with all of the region’s states landing on the nation’s top 10 most expensive list. California ($3.80) and Hawaii ($3.51) are the most expensive markets. Washington ($3.27), Oregon ($3.16), Nevada ($3.07), Alaska ($3.03) and Arizona ($2.88) follow. All prices in the region have increased on the week, with California (+18 cents) and Arizona (+15 cents) seeing the largest increases in the region and country.
The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) recent weekly report, for the week ending on March 29, showed that West Coast gasoline stocks fell slightly by 70,000 bbl from the previous week and now sit at 30.96 million bbl. Ongoing planned and unplanned refinery maintenance throughout the region, including at Valero’s 149,000-b/d refinery in Benicia, CA, have reduced stock levels in the region amid reports of HollyFrontier’s 100,000-b/d Navajo Refinery in New Mexico contributing to gasoline shortages in Arizona. Stocks are approximately 1.5 million bbl lower than this time last year and could fall further this week depending on refinery maintenance turnaround.