With the Fourth of July holiday weekend starting, the national average price for retail gasoline is $3.70 per gallon (gal). This is up about 4 cents/gal over the last six weeks and 21 cents/gal higher than last year at this time, but well below the spring price peaks reached in each of the previous three years. Most of the recent price increase is attributable to rising crude oil prices since unrest began in Iraq last month. However, there is significant regional variation in gasoline prices (Figure 1), with PADD 2 (the Midwest) having seen significant fluctuation over the past month.
While average Midwest retail prices at $3.67/gal are third highest among the U.S. Petroleum Administration for Defense Districts (PADDs), gasoline prices across the other PADDs ranged from $4.04/gal to $3.48/gal. Midwest gasoline prices can be volatile because of many factors, the most important of which are the logistics of supply and distribution to this region. PADD 2 covers a large geographic area consisting of multiple semi-connected markets. The landlocked region is also relatively isolated; it cannot directly access global markets, such as the actively traded Atlantic Basin, for additional supplies. Instead, Midwest gasoline supply comes primarily from refineries within the region, and is supplemented with pipeline shipments from neighboring PADDs, primarily the Gulf Coast, and local inventory withdrawals. Recent market changes have led to congestion in pipelines that move supplies to PADD 2. These factors were evident in the latest period of elevated gasoline prices in the Midwest.
The U.S. average price for diesel fuel increased by less than a cent, remaining at $3.92 per gallon, up 10 cents from this time last year. The West Coast price increased by two cents to $4.07 per gallon. The Rocky Mountain and Gulf Coast prices both increased by less than a cent, to $3.92 and $3.82 per gallon, respectively. The Midwest price decreased by a penny to $3.87 per gallon, while the East Coast price fell less than a penny to $3.98 per gallon.
U.S. propane stocks increased by 2.6 million barrels last week to 56.2 million barrels as of June 27, 2014, 0.1 million barrels (0.2%) lower than a year ago. Gulf Coast inventories increased by 1.9 million barrels and Midwest inventories increased by 0.4 million barrels. East Coast inventories and Rocky Mountain/ West Coast inventories both increased by 0.1 million barrels. Propylene non-fuel-use inventories represented 7.3% of total propane inventories.