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May 22, 2015

U.S. retail gasoline prices lowest since 2009 heading into Memorial Day weekend

map of national gasoline prices by county, as explained in the article text
Source: Provided by GasBuddy.com

On May 18, the U.S. average retail price for gasoline was $2.74 per gallon ($/gal), or 92¢ per gallon (¢/gal) lower than at the same time last year. This is the lowest average price heading into the Memorial Day weekend—the traditional start of the summer driving season—since 2009. Lower gasoline prices reflect lower crude oil prices, with the spot price of North Sea Brent crude oil at more than $45 per barrel ($/b) lower than the same time last year, despite having increased more than $10/b since the beginning of February.

Average retail prices for all regions of the country are below the level at the same time last year, even in the West Coast Region, where supply disruptions pushed gasoline prices to $3.51/gal on May 18, 77¢/gal higher than the U.S. average. Average retail gasoline prices are lowest on the Gulf Coast (PADD 3), at $2.47/gal on May 18. Gulf Coast gasoline prices are often lower than the U.S average, as the region is home to half of the U.S. refining capacity but a smaller share of gasoline demand.

graph of retail gasoline price, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

In the May Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), EIA projects the U.S. monthly gasoline price to average $2.68/gal in May, and then decline as refineries in California resolve outages and refineries in the rest of the country increase production of gasoline. EIA projects regular gasoline retail prices to average $2.51/gal during the third quarter of 2015.

Because of the Memorial Day holiday on Monday, May 25, EIA's next weekly survey of retail gasoline and diesel fuel prices will be published on Tuesday, May 26, one day later than normal, but they will still reflect Monday morning prices.

Principal contributor: Mason Hamilton