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(c) John Kemp
And just like that, distillate demand is off to the races. Distillate is the category that the government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) rolls diesel up into. Diesel that can be bought from a gas station makes up roughly 94% of the demand figure in the EIA’s distillate category. So, for distillate to be surging so much recently, diesel has to be driving the trend. To start off 2016, diesel demand was suffering. From the product supplied figure, which is how the EIA approximates demand, distillates have been dragging the bottom of the 10- year range to start off 2016. It wasn’t until late April that demand started to rocket upwards, pulling demand for distillates from the bottom of the 10-year range to near the top.
Jim Lentz, CEO Toyota N. America
'Automatic Braking' is a safety measure that vehicles sold in the U.S. must include  by 2022.  But Toyota is confident that the technology is something consumers want now and they're running ahead of schedule  to comply with the NHTSA mandate.

These systems use radar, laser or cameras to sense an impending collision and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a crash or at least lessen its severity.

By the end of 2017, 25 of 35 Toyota and Lexus models will have automatic braking systems as standard , the company says.

The U.S. national average for a gallon of gasoline rose 6.1 cents in the last week to $2.287 per gallon this morning, according to fuel-price tracker GasBuddy. While prices this morning stand nearly 15 cents higher than a month ago, they remain 46 cents lower than last year's $2.75 per gallon.

49 of 50 states saw average gasoline prices climb last week, a rise from 34 states that saw increases the week prior as crude oil prices continued holding near their 2016 peak price in the upper $40/barrel range.

Leading states higher was Ohio (up 13.3 cents), Michigan (up 13.1 cents), Indiana (up 11.4 cents), Minnesota (up 11.2 cents) and Nebraska (up 9.0 cents). The Midwest continued to see the highest jumps as maintenance and tightness in gasoline supply persists, thanks to demand up nearly 8% over last year and lackluster gasoline production from refiners, due to an extensive maintenance season that has yielded lower than normal utilization at the region's refineries.
Kinder Morgan's TransMountain Expansion
Unless the US wants to see a dramatic increase in rail traffic to received growing crude production from Alberta's oil sands, approval for one of 3 pipelines that could compensate for the Obama Administration's formal rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline last November, appears to be moving ahead.
On Thursday, the Canadian National Energy Board (NEB) approved the US based Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain crude pipeline expansion. The project, which will align beside the existing conduit will add 980 kilometres of pipeline (610 miles) boosting crude throughput from Edmonton, Alberta to Burnaby, BC in Vancouver. Once completed, the new line will boost crude flows from 300,000 barrels a day to nearly 900,000 with likely export destinations to Asia, California and Washington state.
Back in October of 2014, the number of rigs in the U.S. actively drilling for oil hit a record high that hadn’t been met since Baker Hughes began collecting the data in 1987. Back in October of 2014 when the record-setting peak for oil rig count occurred, life was still good for producers with the price of oil tracking near the $80 per barrel range. A fairy tale ending dissipated quickly when on Thanksgiving Day the following month OPEC announced no intention of slowing down oil production. Since then, oil rig counts have fallen from a peak of 1,609 to yesterday’s latest count of only 318. The U.S. hasn’t seen this few active oil rigs since October 2009. Despite the lowest count since 2009, this week marked a halt to the 8-week decline in rig counts, where the count stayed at 318 for two consecutive weeks.   

New trends have to start somewhere, so, is this the bottom for the oil rig count?
Gas price change over last week
Leading up to the Memorial Day weekend in just over a week, prices continued on a path that is sure to rile up motorists across the Midwest and Great Lakes. In just one week’s time, up to 20 cent per gallon increases were prevalent in some states in the region. The ten worst offenders for gas price hikes over that week period have been Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Michigan, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, and Oklahoma. Each state of these states saw at least a 9 cent per gallon in one week. These states skyrocketing prices largely contributed to the national average rising around 7 cents per gallon in a week. But as crude oil prices strengthened from mid-$42 per barrel to grazing $49 per barrel in a month, it seems no gas price discount is safe.
The recent and ongoing serious fires affecting Canada's oil capital, Fort McMurray, and its toll on production provides a glimpse into the fragile and often nuanced relationship between supply and world price.
A civil war in Libya that continues to plague oil output and rebel attacks on Nigerian oilfields have, along with 1.5 million barrels a day off line in Alberta, changed the oil supply and demand dynamic in almost record time.
The Energy Information Administration released its weekly report today on the status of petroleum inventories in the United States.

Here are some highlights:

Crude oil inventories increased by 1.3 million barrels (MMbbl) to a total of 541.3 MMbbl. At 541.3 MMbbl, inventories are 59.1 MMbbl above last year (12.3%) and are well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Gasoline inventories decreased by 2.5 MMbbl to 238.1 MMbbl. At 238.1 MMbbl, inventories are up 14.1 MMbbl, 6.3% higher than a year ago. 

Here's how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week: East Coast (-0.6 MMbbl); Midwest (-1.2 MMbbl); Gulf Coast (-0.1 MMbbl); Rockies (-0.1 MMbbl); and West Coast (-0.6 MMbbl). It is important to note which regions saw increases/decreases as this information likely drives prices up (in the case of falling inventories), or down (in the case of rising inventories).

DISTILLATE (diesel, heating oil) INVENTORIES:
Distillate inventories decreased by 3.2 MMbbl to a total of 152.2 MMbbl. At 152.2 MMbbl, inventories are up 24.4 MMbbl, or 19.1% vs. a year ago.
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It wasn't that long ago that OPEC members gathered (twice already this year) to discuss, among other things, measures they could address collectively to reduce production,  raise prices and ensure the uninterrupted flow of billions to Middle East oil producers. 

Of course, no agreement was reached due largely to Iran's efforts to make up for lost time and Saudi Arabia's efforts to protect its majority market share from further erosion.  And now, Amin Nasser, chief executive of Saudi Arabia's state oil company,Saudi Aramco, confirms that: "Production will increase upward in 2016." 


Are you planning to hit the road this summer? If you are, you’re not alone. According to our annual summer travel survey, over 75% of people said they would be traveling this summer, a 2.2% increase from last year, with an overwhelming majority (79%) doing so by car.

The lower gas prices over previous summers are playing a part in the rise of road trips. At $2.23, the current national average is almost 50 cents per gallon lower today than a year ago. In some states, the drop in even more dramatic — California’s average price is over $1 per gallon cheaper than 2015.

Would it surprise you to learn that in one state the number of drivers who DO NOT buckle their seat belts exceeds 30%?

On a regular basis our government issues reports that let us know whether we're learning to connect the dots between seat belt usage and self-preservation.  And they spend our money on advertising to try and educate us all on the need to drive safely.   That's because bringing our lives to a sudden and messy end in a highway crash costs us all even more than these expensive ad campaigns that you'll be seeing this week...

The good news is that on a national level the seat belt usage rate has increased to 88.5%; the bad news is that nearly half of the vehicular fatalities in 2014 (49%) were  not wearing seat belts.  Which states do the best to stay alive?  And which states are grasping too slowly the complexities of seat belts? 
The U.S. national average for a gallon of gasoline rose 1.3 cents in the last week to $2.223 per gallon this morning, nearly 50-cents lower than a year ago, according to fuel-price tracker

Thirty-four states saw gasoline prices rise in the last week while sixteen states saw average gasoline prices decline. Leading the gainers were Indiana (up 9.3 cents), Ohio (up 8.6 cents), Kentucky (up 8.2 cents), Montana (up 6.8 cents) and Washington (up 6.1 cents). All of the largest 16 price movements in the last week were increases. Leading decliners: Delaware (down 3.2 cents), Georgia (down 2.3 cents), Maryland and West Virginia (down 1.8 cents) and Florida (down 1.5 cents).
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled its last rule aimed at limiting methane emissions from all new oil and gas wells, going as far as to include previously exempted wells which pumped less than 15 barrels a day.
While the new rules are not expected to take effect until next year, well after the Obama Administration ends, the rules are already facing considerable opposition by producers given the timing and context.
With the national average price of gas about 40 cents lower than it was a year ago,  most of us are saving money at the pump... even more than we saved last year.  But do you have any idea where the savings goes... what you're really doing with the money? 

If your spouse asks you this question, the correct answer might be: "It must be paying the bills since it's not in my wallet."

But researchers who scrutinize these matters say that we're all just "eating, smoking and drinking away the savings from cheap gasoline".  Do you agree?
In the gas price arena, it seems few are happy with how prices have risen over the last few months. Arguments over who is getting the short end of the gas price stick are usually quelled by someone from California complaining with the trump card. Week in and week out it’s usually California and Hawaii duking it out for the top spot on the dubious list of most expensive states for gasoline. While California and Hawaii do currently sit at one and two respectively on the most expensive gas price list, two states have made a hard charge over the last month to break the top ten. Over the past month, Utah and Idaho have seen their prices at the pump shoot up nearly 28-30 cents per gallon. That’s a much larger increase than the US average of nearly 15 cents per gallon. With both states sitting near $2.38 per gallon at time of publication and climbing, prices don’t see any signs of slowing down.
"Consumers working together to save on gas"