Slide 12 of 17
Retail gasoline prices, like those for distillate fuels, have hit record prices nationally and in several regions this year. The national average regular gasoline price peaked at $1.68 per gallon in mid-June, but quickly declined, and now stands at $1.45, 17 cents higher than a year ago.
Two regions, in particular, experienced sharp gasoline price runups this year. California, which often has some of the highest prices in the nation, saw prices peak near $1.85 in mid-September, while the Midwest had average prices over $1.87 in mid-June. Local prices at some stations in both areas hit levels well over $2.00 per gallon.
The reasons for the regional price runups differed significantly. In the Midwest, the introduction of Phase 2 RFG was hampered by low stocks, pipeline problems, and a unique ethanol-blended product. The resulting supply shortfall was serious, but short-lived, and is unlikely to be repeated next year. In California, however, a chronically tight supply-demand balance resulted in a high-price situation that has been repeated often in recent years, and for which no solution has yet been found.
On the other hand, some regions, like the East Coast for example, have not varied significantly from the U. S. average price over the last few years, possibly due in part, to easier access to new supplies, especially imports.