Demand for gasoline in the U.S. has fallen to the lowest level since February 2017, putting additional downward pressure on retail pump prices. For the week, the national average for regular loses three cents to $2.23 a gallon while the Oregon average also falls three cents to $2.91. Gas prices have been steadily decreasing for more than two months due to the drop in demand as well as cheaper crude oil prices.
“AAA believes gas prices in 2019 will be a bit lower than in 2018, barring unforeseen events, and pump prices will be the least expensive at the start and end of this year,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho. “The national average could peak around $2.75, with Oregon and other western states climbing above $3 a gallon again this year.”
In 2018, the national average peaked at $2.97 in late May. The Oregon average peaked at $3.35 in late May through early June. Oregon first hit $3 a gallon on March 20 and remained above the $3 mark until Christmas Eve when it fell to $2.99. The 2018 low for the national average was $2.27 on the last two days of the year. The Oregon average was at its lowest price on the first three days of 2018.
The latest report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows gasoline demand at 8.6 million b/d for the week ending December 28. Despite record numbers of people traveling by car over the holidays, demand was down nearly 900,000 bbl, suggesting that overall demand this winter could be lower than expected.
Oregon is one of 46 states and the District of Columbia where gas prices are lower week-over-week. Montana (-9 cents) has the largest drop. Michigan has the largest weekly increase (+5 cents). This week four states have averages at or above $3 a gallon, same as a week ago.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have lower prices now than a month ago, with every state except Delaware reporting double-digit drops. The national average is 20 cents less and the Oregon average is 16 cents less than a month ago. Montana (-39 cents) has the largest monthly decrease. Delaware (-9.5 cents) has the smallest monthly decrease.
The West Coast continues to have the most expensive gas prices in the nation. California bumps Hawaii out of the top spot this week, with Washington, Alaska, Nevada, Oregon and Arizona rounding out the top seven. Oregon is sixth most expensive, falling from fifth a week ago. On the week, Hawaii (-7 cents) and Alaska (-7 cents) have the largest drops in the region.