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U.S. gasoline prices are now the highest that they’ve been in seven years, even as the summer driving season has drawn to a close, denting demand for the fuel.
U.S. gasoline demand has fallen for the fourth week in a row, but gasoline prices are climbing ever higher, spurred on by the refinery disruptions in the Gulf of Mexico caused by Hurricane Ida.
According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), retail gasoline and diesel prices in the United States averaged $3.176 for the week ending September 6—the highest level since 2014.
For comparison, the national average gasoline prices this time last year were $2.211. In 2019, the average at the close of the driving season was $2.550—even before the pandemic.
And now, just as the oil and gas industry struggles to recover from Hurricane Ida, another storm—Tropical Storm Nicholas, is barreling towards the Texas Gulf Coast’s refining complex, threatening even higher gasoline prices.
Nicholas is expected to make landfall late Monday or early Tuesday.
Some producers are evacuating nonessential personnel from platforms that are expected to be in the path of the latest storm.
But the higher gasoline prices haven’t stopped the EIA from forecasting that prices will eventually fall when refinery runs increase post-Ida. This forecast, however, was prior to Nicholas.
GasBuddy has expanded its Fuel Availability Tracker to include Texas as a precautionary measure ahead of Nicholas, which is expected to bring significant flooding.
According to GasBuddy, demand for gasoline has fallen for four weeks in a row, but on Sunday, U.S. gasoline demand “jumped 9.4% from the prior (holiday weekend) Sunday.”
Gasoline demand was still down, however, compared to the previous four Sundays.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.