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Gulf storms end gas price stability, at least for now

As refineries shut down, prices at the pump moved higher just about everywhere

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Photo (c) narvikk - Getty Images
Last week, AAA predicted gasoline prices had peaked for the summer. Oops. Prices rose in every part of the country in the last week.

The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the price of regular gas is $2.23 a gallon, up five cents from last Friday. The average price of premium is $2.83 a gallon, four cents higher than a week ago. The average price of diesel fuel is nearly the same as last week, $2.43 a gallon.

In fairness, AAA did offer one important caveat in last week’s prediction -- that there wouldn’t be any damaging hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. Sure enough, Hurricane Laura roared ashore this week along the Louisiana and Texas borders, curtailing operations at area oil refineries. The latest reports, however, show there was little damage to the facilities, which should soon return to full operations.

Refinery shutdowns

Thursday on Twitter, Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, reported that gas prices had pushed to their highest level since March for two reasons -- recovering demand and the refinery shutdowns in the Gulf.

“Expect another five cents a gallon rise or so in the next week or two,” he wrote.

Rising oil prices are also putting upward pressure on gasoline prices right at the time that prices begin to decline into the fall and winter months. At midweek, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a larger than expected drawdown from U.S. oil stockpiles in the previous week but that didn’t seem to affect fuel production.

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.7 million barrels per day during the week ending August 21, which was 225,000 barrels per day more than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 82.0 percent of their operable capacity last week. 

While most states saw prices at the pump rise no more than four cents a gallon, the statewide average in Indiana jumped nine cents a gallon while the average price gained seven cents in Pennsylvania.

The states with the most expensive gas

These states currently have the highest prices for regular gas, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey:

  • Hawaii ($3.24)

  • California ($3.23)

  • Washington ($2.83)

  • Oregon ($2.67)

  • Nevada ($2.67)

  • Alaska ($2.54)

  • Pennsylvania ($2.50)

  • Utah ($2.43)

  • Idaho ($2.43)

  • Illinois ($2.39)

The states with the cheapest regular gas

The survey found these states currently have the lowest prices for regular gas:

  • Mississippi ($1.87)

  • Louisiana ($1.89)

  • Arkansas ($1.91)

  • Texas ($1.91)

  • Alabama ($1.92)

  • Oklahoma ($1.92)

  • Missouri ($1.93)

  • Tennessee ($1.98)

  • South Carolina ($1.99)

  • Kansas ($2.00)

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