Spring has sprung with gas demand surging last week as motorists took advantage of better driving weather. But fears of a recession caused global oil prices to hover near $70 a barrel, mitigating a rise in gas prices. The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline drifted lower since last week by three cents to hit $3.43, according to AAA.
“We may be seeing a return to seasonal trends in demand with warmer weather and longer days,” said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson, “But waffling oil prices could mitigate any increase at the pump for now.”
According to new data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), gas demand increased from 8.59 million to 8.96 million b/d last week. Meanwhile, total domestic gasoline stocks decreased significantly by 6.4 million bbl to 229.6 million bbl last week. Increasing demand amid tighter supply would typically push pump prices higher; however, recent lower oil prices have pushed prices down.
The national average in the third week of March 2023 was $3.43–four cents more than a month ago but 80 cents less than a year ago.
Ten states have seen the largest decreases in their averages: Colorado (−17 cents), Delaware (−13 cents), Ohio (−10 cents), Michigan (−8 cents), Nevada (−8 cents), Nebraska (−7 cents), New Jersey (−7 cents), Indiana (−7 cents), Utah (−6 cents) and California (−6 cents).
The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets include Mississippi ($2.98), Oklahoma ($3.00), Arkansas ($3.03), Missouri ($3.03), Kansas ($3.04), Texas ($3.06), Louisiana ($3.07), Alabama ($3.09), South Carolina ($3.13) and Tennessee ($3.13).
Oil Market Dynamics
At the close of the formal trading session on March 22, WTI increased by $1.23 to settle at $70.90. Crude prices rose after the EIA reported that demand grew amid a reduction in gasoline stocks, signaling to the market that demand may be more robust than anticipated this year despite ongoing economic concerns. Additionally, the EIA reported that total domestic commercial crude inventories increased by 1.1 million bbl to 481.2 million bbl last week.
Drivers can find current gas prices along their route using AAA TripTik.