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The U.S. West Coast is expected to import 120,000 barrels per day of gasoline and blending components for the remainder of this month, up from 95,000 bpd in the first part of April, Bloomberg reports, citing “near-record” gasoline import levels for this time of year based on data from Vortexa.
With the summer season looming and all indications that high gasoline prices will not be suppressing driving demand in the coming months, combined with cuts due to refinery maintenance season require additional stockpiles.
Inventories on the West Coast are now below the five-year average for this season, according to Bloomberg.
Asia accounted for some 60% of the uptick in April gasoline imports to the U.S. West Coast.
Americans have been paying politically dangerous high prices at the gas pumps since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions.
Today’s national average at the pump is $4.120, according to AAA, up slightly from yesterday’s average of $4.114, and compared to last year’s average on this day of $2.878.
Even though gasoline prices have dipped only slightly from their record highs, AAA anticipates strong demand.
“As the days get longer, the weather gets warmer, and pump prices dip from their record highs, consumers feel more confident about hitting the road,” media quoted AAA Texas spokesperson Daniel Armbruster as saying. “And AAA is anticipating strong demand in the coming weeks as bookings for Memorial Day travel are already much higher than what they were last year.”
Also today, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded contracts for an initial 30 million barrels it put up for sale from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Those 30 million barrels will be delivered in May and June and the White House is hoping that they will help ease supply disruptions and pain at the gas pumps.
Gasoline prices generally fluctuate along with the price of crude oil, the key input. Crude oil prices at the time of writing (3:57pm EST) were $107.9 for Brent and $103.4 for WTI.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com