The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) conducts a survey of gasoline prices each Monday, and the latest survey showed the U.S. average regular retail gasoline price increasing for the first time in 18 weeks.
The steady decline in prices over the previous 17 weeks was the longest consecutive decrease in EIA's weekly survey since prices fell 14 cents per gallon over a 24-week period in 1995. The decline is the largest percentage decline since a 58 percent drop in gasoline prices over 15 weeks in late 2008. With oil prices at around $45 per barrel (bbl), petroleum refinery outages in the Midwest and Gulf Coast regions in January pushed wholesale spot gasoline prices, and ultimately retail gasoline prices, up at the end of January. Those increases were large enough to raise the national average gasoline price in yesterday's EIA survey.
In mid-to-late January, multiple refinery outages (both planned and unplanned) in the Midwest and Gulf Coast regions increased gasoline spot prices, which are reflected in pump prices with a short lag. In last Monday's survey, average retail prices in these regions first turned upward. Monday's survey saw the first upturn in national average prices.