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Who says markets are boring ? Last week at this time few of us were likely giving any thought  to what was in store on the energy side of things, even though commentaries and analysis were focused the previous Thursday and Friday on the unsettling developments surrounding the Chinese stock market. 
In this week’s Pelty at the Pumps, instead of just looking at one state, we are going to open up the search and look at the most economical retailers in the following states:  North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.

After looking at the gas prices for nearly 1/3 of the country some generalities have come to light.  We noted that Costco, Sam's Club, and BJs appear the top 3 most economical brands consistently.  Drive by any one of the 3 and you will usually see lines that run 4-5 cars deep, if not more.  Other findings were that the "majors" as they are often referred to (Shell, Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillip) consistently occupy the bottom representing the least economical brands.  If you will recall earlier this year Shell ran a series of commercials and advertisements touting their "most technically advanced" premium fuel, in an effort to separate their premium from the field. 
Over the last two trading sessions, oil prices have soared, leading many to ask our analyst team: when and/or will the nearly 18% spike in oil prices show up at the gas pump? The short answer: don't be too worried yet. While oil prices had plunged in recent days, gasoline prices had no where near fallen to levels that would have matched the drop, so now with oil prices rebounding, we don't yet have to worry that all is lost.

Since the start of July, oil prices have shed over 23% of their value, falling from nearly $60/bbl to $45.51/bbl as of this writing. During the same time frame, the national average has fallen 10%, meaning that though the recent (and likely temporary) recovery in oil prices has maybe gotten you worried, gasoline prices will continue to drop as they continue to catch up to the now less substantial drop in oil prices.

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With the start of a new school year the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reminds all drivers, students and parents to put safety first in school zones and near bus stops. Students travel to school by a variety of means: school bus (the safest means of transportation to and from school), walking, bikes, public transportation, or in vehicles with family or friends. It is everyone’s responsibility to use caution and stay focused and alert around traffic to ensure children can travel to and from school safely.
(c) Texas A&M Transportation Institute
If you needed a study to tell you that traffic is bad and getting worse, the researchers over at Texas A&M University’s Transportation Institute were able to quantify how bad the problem has gotten. In their annual report of the Urban Mobility Scorecard, researchers were able to compare 2014’s data of traffic on highway and streets and compare it to data as far back as 1982. The results? You’re wasting more time in traffic than you used to. In 1982, the average motorist spent 18 hours stuck in traffic. The latest numbers show in 2014 the average motorist spent in traffic climbed to 42 hours.

With road data from across the country coming in, the institute is able to rank the worst commutes by city. So while your commute might be bad, the Washington D.C. metro area holds the dubious ranking of most hours delayed in commute. All this wasted time in traffic impacts the gas pumps as well. The longer time spent delayed in traffic means more fuel consumed as you pace with the taillights ahead of you. In 1982, 4 gallons of fuel were wasted on average in a year. Now, motorists are wasting 19 gallons of fuel due to traffic.
Thankfully, it's not everyday that when we go to a gas station to fill up we are greeted by a sign taped to the pumps saying "No Gas" or "Out of Gas". Yet the reported number of stations running out of fuel appears to be more than just a fluke or or the result of excessive buying sparked by a gas war.
Inquiries to GasBuddy this past summer concerning dry gas bars appear to be on the upswing. Indeed after completing some scheduled maintenance at its Scotford refinery and heavy oil upgrader in Edmonton, dozens of Edmonton Shell stations went several days with no fuel to sell. Two weeks later Shell stations as far away Thunder Bay,Ontario, reported the they too had  run out at many of their stations. Today we learned that at least 5 Shell gas bars in Winnipeg are empty and traffic and motorists are encouraged to seek  alternatives.
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 decreased by 5.5 million barrels (mb) to a total of 450.8 million barrels. At 450.8 million barrels, inventories are 90.3 million barrels above last year (25.0%) and are well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Gasoline inventories increased by 1.7 million barrels to 214.4 million barrels. At 214.4 million barrels, inventories are up 2.1 million barrels,  1.0% higher than one year ago. Here's how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week: East Coast (+0.9mb); Midwest (+0.5mb); Gulf Coast (+1.1mb); Rockies (+0.1mb); and West Coast (-1.0mb). 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 increased by 1.4 million barrels to a total of 149.8 million barrels. At 149.8 million barrels, inventories are up 27.0 million barrels, or 22.0% vs. a year ago.
When traveling on busy interstates, a sight seen all too often are trucks pulled off to the shoulder. While drivers are lauded for taking rest breaks if they feel they can’t safely operate their truck, the lack of safe parking options for trucks put drivers in a difficult position. If drivers are already tired, driving further to sparse rest stops isn’t a safe option. Safety concerns exist not only for truck driver safety but for other motorists as well. When trucks pull over to the side of the road in arbitrary locations, the chances for accidents increase.

The U.S. Department of Transportation released survey results Friday that point to a lack of truck parking information and capacity across the nation and called for a national coalition to address the problem and help find targeted solutions. Almost half of the state departments of transportation surveyed reported that truckers were forced to drive on freeway interchange ramps and shoulders of highways, which represents a safety issue.
According to, fraud factors into as many as 1 out of every 3 auto insurance claims in New York City. The problem is even worse in Los Angeles, the city that generates the most questionable claims potentially linked to organized crime, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.  That trade group tracks fraud for insurers and it also ranks California, Florida, Texas, New York and Maryland as the top five states for shady auto insurance claims.
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The cost to motorists is tough to pin down because fraud often goes unreported, but it's definitely a "major-league crime involving a wide variety of schemes," says Jim Quiggle, a spokesman for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud in Washington, D.C.  In New York City alone, officials estimate that fake auto claims add $241 million to premiums. Nationally, experts believe overall insurance fraud costs tens of billions of dollars every year.
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If you paid a traffic ticket generated from a red-light camera in St. Louis any time since Feb. 14, 2014, you're getting your money back.

The city pledged last week that it will refund roughly $5.6 million to motorists who paid red­light camera tickets. On Tuesday, the Missouri Supreme Court struck down the ordinance governing red­light cameras in St. Louis. The city immediately stopped the red­light camera program and dismissed all pending cases.

Now, St. Louis begins the daunting task of returning the money paid over the last 18 months by offending drivers. The St. Louis Post Dispatch says they are still considering the best way to do it.
Gasoline prices have returned to their downward trajectory in the last week, according to data from price-tracker The national average shed 8.5 cents per gallon, falling today to $2.60/gallon, 84 cents lower than last year's $3.44/gallon.

Over 1,000 gas stations in the U.S. now boast selling prices under $2/gallon, a number likely to explode by the holidays. More stations are selling gasoline under $2/gallon today than over $4/gallon, a sign that the West Coast's pain at the pump is over. 49 states saw declines versus a week ago, with just Wyoming sitting out of the party with a 0.3 cent rise.

The big move lower at the pump comes as oil prices continue their apparent free-fall, moving under $39 a barrel this morning, the lowest in over six and a half years. The Midwest, which had been home to quickly rising prices in recent weeks, has calmed down after news sources reported that BP's sprawling Whiting, Indiana refinery could come online much sooner than expected after temporary repairs were made.
While we get a lot of questions and inquiries from our loyal and growing GasBuddy audience (keep 'em coming) the one that clearly stands out for this season is by far and away " Why are gas prices not lower given crude's drop ?
 All of us here as GB Bloggers have answered this in varying ways, - (I'm from Canada and our weak dollar doesn't help as all commodities are priced in US dollars) What emerges is nothing short of the dawn of a new era in what commodity now finds favour with the real market: actual physical traders.
For about the last 14 years gas prices followed oil prices and since oil is a widely traded commodity, varying in price and type worldwide, the overall strength and price support which neared super bubble proportions in 2008, all oil regardless saw hyper valuations. Though some contend this was expected given new markets and rising consumption in emerging countries such as China, Brazil, India, Indonesia etc, the greater reality was that the financialization of the prized commodity, vastly outstripped physical markets and supply. As a result, oil did manage to break through $100 a barrel and with some exceptions at the end of 2008 and half of 2009, it remained there until mid 2014.
In this week’s Pelty at the Pumps, instead of just looking at one state, we are going to open up the search and look at the most economical retailers in the following states:  Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and West Virginia.
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After looking at the gas prices for 10 states, we noted that Costco, Sam's Club, and BJs appear the top 3 most economical brands

How much should you have to pay to dodge Denver-bound traffic jams on Interstate 70 in the mountains?

Would you pay $3 to use your ExpressToll transponder to pay the toll to slide down the Colorado DOT's new 13-mile “peak period shoulder lane” on the eastbound side of the highway between Empire and Idaho Springs — which the statewide road and highway agency is now calling its I-70 Mountain Express Lane?  How about $30?

The last two weeks have seen record increases in gas prices thanks to an unexpected major outage at BP's Whiting, Indiana refinery, but in a new development, sources are now saying that BP has made temporary repairs to its refinery while parts for a permanent fix are fabricated.

The news has sent spot gasoline prices plunging significantly today. Spot gasoline prices are the basis for wholesale gasoline prices, which is what stations pay for the fuel, and changes are generally passed on to motorists.

BP has not responded to requests for comment at presstime, but the market clearly believes the rumors have validity, and BP has been under tremendous pressure to get back online as politicians and angry motorists direct frustration to BP in light of its outage that has brought spikes to pumps across the Midwest, but particularly to Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.
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