U.S. crude oil prices plummeted into negative territory Monday for the first time in history. West Texas Intermediate tumbled down to -$37.63 a barrel for crude oil that was to be delivered in May. Oil stocks have grown so much that oil producers have run out of space.
At the same time, gasoline stocks in the U.S. have grown to their highest levels ever recorded. The latest report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows total stock levels at 262 million barrels—this is the highest weekly domestic stock level ever recorded by the EIA since it began reporting the data in 1990.
The growing supplies and dramatic drop in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic continue to send gas prices lower. For the week, the national average for regular unleaded loses four cents to $1.81 a gallon. The Oregon average falls seven cents to $2.47. This is the seventh-largest weekly drop in the nation.
The national average is at its lowest price since March 2016 and the Oregon average is at its lowest price since December 2016.
On the week, U.S. gasoline demand was stable at 5.1 million b/d as refinery rates dipped down to 69%, a level not reported by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in more than a decade. In April 2019, demand was about 9.4 million b/d.
“Due to plummeting crude oil prices, increasing gasoline stocks and a huge drop in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic, AAA expects gas prices to continue to decline,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho.
Pump prices are lower this week in all 50 states including Oregon and the District of Columbia. Idaho (-10 cents) and Alaska (-10 cents) have the largest weekly drops while Oklahoma (-1 cent) has the smallest.
Hawaii remains the only state in the nation with an average at or above $3 a gallon.
The cheapest gas in the nation can be found in Wisconsin ($1.22) and Oklahoma ($1.39). This is the sixth week in a row that one or more states has an average below $2 a gallon. In all, 39 states are below that benchmark up from 37 states a week ago.
Oregon is one of all 50 states and the District of Columbia with lower prices now than a month ago. The national average is 35 cents less and the Oregon average is 37 cents less than a month ago. Wisconsin (-67 cents) has the largest month-over-month decline. New York (-21 cents) has the smallest.
Oregon is one of 50 states and the District of Columbia where drivers are paying less than a year ago. The national average is $1.04 less and the Oregon average is 89 cents less than a year ago. Wisconsin (-$1.61) has the largest year-over-year drop. Hawaii (-36 cents) has the smallest. In all, 21 states have pump price averages that are $1/gallon or more cheaper than a year ago, with another 13 states within a dime of reaching this mark.
A reminder that Oregonians can temporarily pump their own gas due to the coronavirus outbreak and this has been extended through April 25. Stations aren’t required to offer self-serve gas, but it is allowed in order to reduce contact that could spread COVID-19, and ensure essential workers have access to fuel during potential staffing shortages at gas stations.