Gasoline inventory levels are high in all Petroleum Administration for Defense Districts (PADDs), with the exception of PADD 2 (Midwest). In the Midwest, gasoline inventories are below five-year average levels. Midwest gasoline inventories were 0.7 million bbl above the five-year average level on January 10, dropped to 1.8 million below on January 31, and built during past two weeks but are still 1.3 million bbl below the average level. Trade press reports indicate that Midwest refiners were hit hard by cold weather in mid-January, leading to brief periods of reduced refinery runs. PADD 2 gross refinery inputs fell from 3.6 million bbl/d during the final full week of December to 3.3 million bbl/d for the week ending January 17, before rebounding above late-December levels in recent weeks.
With refinery turnaround season approaching, EIA projects that reduced gasoline production will lead to additional inventory draws. However, inventories are expected to remain above five-year average levels. In the February Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), EIA projects total U.S. gasoline inventories to fall from current levels of 233.1 million bbl to 215.2 million bbl in May, which would still be about 3.7 million bbl above typical levels. As a result of tightening supplies, STEO projects the U.S. average retail price for regular gasoline to increase to an average of $3.59/gal in June, up from $3.38/gal on February 17. EIA projects significant regional variation in peak retail prices, with the highest prices expected on the West Coast at a June average of $3.88 /gal, and the lowest prices expected on the Gulf Coast at $3.42/gal.
Gasoline and diesel fuel prices increase again
The U.S. average retail price of regular gasoline increased seven cents to $3.38 per gallon as of February 17, 2014, 37 cents lower than last year at this time. Prices increased in all regions of the nation, with the Rocky Mountain price increasing the most to $3.24 per gallon, 10 cents higher than last week. The Gulf Coast price gained nine cents to $3.18 per gallon and the Midwest price was up eight cents to $3.36 per gallon. The East and West Coast prices increased six cents, to $3.41 per gallon and $3.57 per gallon, respectively.
The national average diesel fuel price was up one cent to $3.99 per gallon, 17 cents lower than last year at this time. Prices increased in all regions of the nation except the Gulf Coast, where the price dropped a penny to $3.78 per gallon. The largest increase was in the Rocky Mountains, where the price gained four cents to $3.91 per gallon. The Midwest price was $3.99 per gallon, up two cents from last week, and the East Coast price increased a penny to $4.13 per gallon. The West Coast price was up less than one cent to remain at $4.00 per gallon.