On the week, the national gas price average has dropped seven cents to land at $2.56. As pump prices steadily decline, they are headed toward some of the cheapest gas prices in 2018, according to the latest data from AAA.
The national average was lowest in January at $2.49 while May brought the most expensive price of $2.97.
“Trends are indicating that the month of December may bring some of the cheapest gas prices of the year,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “Currently, 19 states already have gas price averages less expensive than a year ago so as U.S. gasoline demand remains low and supply plentiful, motorists can expect to save at the pump as long as the price of crude oil doesn’t spike.”
Gas prices have been cheaper in the U.S. as crude oil sells at $57/bbl and cheaper – the lowest prices of the year. However, market observers warn crude could see an increase following the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting on December 6 in Vienna, Austria. At that meeting, OPEC is expected to curtail crude production by 1 million to 1.4 million barrels per day, which could cause crude prices to rise due to reduced global supply, in turn causing gas prices to turn higher in America.
- The nation’s top 10 largest weekly decreases are: Ohio (-14 cents), Kentucky (-11 cents), Mississippi (-11 cents), South Carolina (-10 cents), Michigan (-9 cents), Alabama (-9 cents), Arkansas (-9 cents), Georgia (-9 cents), Illinois (-9 cents) and Texas (-9 cents).
- The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Missouri ($2.18), Oklahoma ($2.21), South Carolina ($2.23), Texas ($2.24), Delaware ($2.24), Louisiana ($2.26), Mississippi ($2.27), Alabama ($2.27), Kentucky ($2.27) and Ohio ($2.28).
Oil market dynamics
At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI dropped $4.21 and settled at $50.42. Oil prices plunged to their lowest point since October 2017 last week as EIA reported that crude inventories continue to build. The latest EIA weekly petroleum report showed that crude inventories grew by 4.9 million bbl to 447 million bbl. Total domestic crude inventories have grown for nine consecutive weeks, contributing to the crude prices dropping further. If this week’s EIA report shows another build, crude prices will likely continue their descent, AAA reports.
Growth in global crude production, including in the U.S., combined with weaker than expected global crude demand for the fourth quarter of 2018 have contributed to growth in global crude inventories. Market observers will now watch OPEC closely, which may decide to reduce its total crude production at its meeting next month. If OPEC, along with Russia, decides to reduce production, crude prices will likely increase due to the agreement.