AAA: Gas price increases slow in time for Memorial Day
The unofficial start of summer is here, and gas prices are at their lowest point at the Memorial Day holiday in five years. The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has increased for 36 of the past 38 days, reaching $2.74 per gallon Friday. Consumers are paying a nickel per gallon more than one week ago and 26 cents more per gallon than one month ago.
Despite the national average continuing to register new highs for 2015, drivers are still experiencing significant yearly savings at the pump. Friday’s average price is 91 cents less than last year. Looking ahead, it is likely that motorists will pay the lowest Memorial Day gas price in five years.
Pump prices have moved higher nationwide in recent months, largely due to the global rally in crude prices. The global oil market remains oversupplied, but market watchers are closely monitoring U.S. production and the recent outbreak of violence in the Middle East for any impact that could shift this balance. Speculators are also interpreting the latest action by the so-called Islamic State, who seized control of Ramadi, Iraq, as a reminder of regional instability that could ignite at any time. At the close of Thursday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, crude oil settled at $60.72 per barrel, up roughly $1 from last Friday’s close and headed to what could likely be a ninth straight weekly gain.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) noted in its weekly report that crude oil inventories dropped 2.7 million barrels to 482.2 million barrels, marking a three-week draw streak. Gasoline stocks dropped 2.8 million barrels to 223.9 million barrels, the highest recorded inventory going into Memorial Day weekend. Gasoline demand took a small step higher, up 60,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 9.261 million bpd. Last week’s demand figures were the highest for the same week since 2008
“After what sometimes felt like the longest winter on record, people are ready for the unofficial start of summer this weekend,” said Martha M Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Travel for the Memorial Day weekend is expected to be up 4.6 percent over last year, representing a 10-year high in travel volume. Despite recent increases, lower gas prices have undoubtedly fueled the desire to travel. Most drivers will likely pay the lowest Memorial Day gas prices in at least five years.”
Nationwide, just over 37 million Americans are projected to travel 50 miles or more from home during the Memorial Day holiday weekend – from Thursday, May 21 to Monday, May 25. This is a 4.7 percent increase from last year, and the highest travel volume for Memorial Day in a decade. AAA predicts that automotive travel this Memorial Day holiday will be up 5.3 percent (33 million travelers) compared to last year’s holiday weekend. Those traveling by car are expected to enjoy the lowest prices at the pump for the Memorial Day holiday in five years.
CURRENT AND PAST GAS PRICE AVERAGES
Regular Unleaded Gasoline (*indicates record high)
(Thursday 5/21/15 close)
(Friday 5/15/15 close)