Only once in the past five years (2011) have we seen gas prices climb in October. The national average price of gas has flattened temporarily, standing today at $2.29, exactly where we were last Monday, but that plateau may soon be in the rearview mirror when a nominal decline resumes.
Overall, five states have gas averaging below $2/gal., 21 states now have an average price of $2.25 or less; and just 10 states remain at $2.50 or more. The 10 highest averages are found in IL; MI; WY; WA; ID; UT; AK; HI; NE and CA.
But it is the west coast that is currently seeing the sharpest rate of decline. California’s statewide average, $2.93, has fallen by 35 cents per gallon over the past month. Washington today stands at $2.55, and that average is also 35 cents less than one it was one month ago. Oregon has also posted a comparable decrease and that is attributed to improved output from oil refiners in the Pacific Northwest and significant declines in wholesale fuel prices.
On the east coast Hurricane Joaquin continues to punish the Carolinas while wind and flooding have delivered adverse effects to much of the eastern seaboard. And that in turn, has shut down roads and commerce in many communities from Georgia to New Jersey. Historically, hurricanes tend to bring short-term spikes in areas where fuel availability is compromised; followed by sizable declines attributed to reduced demand.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil opens the week at $46.11 per barrel and that is the upper range of where it’s traded over the past three weeks. We last saw WTI at $46 on Sept. 25th, but that price may not hold since Saudi Arabia announced a reduction in its prices over the weekend.