U.S. retail gas market in post-hurricane recovery mode

The retail gasoline sector in the United States is starting to see the impact of a post-hurricane recovery and slumping demand. File photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

By Daniel J. Graeber – UPI

The average price for gas in the country is about 20 cents less than it was after Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas.

Barring a few select markets, most U.S. drivers are seeing a decline in gas prices as the energy sector recovers from recent hurricanes, market analysis found.

Motor club AAA recorded a national average retail price for regular unleaded for Tuesday at $2.47 per gallon, a fraction of a percent lower than last week and 6 percent, or 16 cents per gallon, less than one month ago.

AAA spokesperson Jeanette Casselano said demand nation-wide is starting to wind down from the strains of the travel-heavy summer, while the refineries and pipelines idled by recent hurricanes in the U.S. south are starting to return to normal.

“Drivers will see stabilized or decreasing prices at the pump throughout this month due to high refinery production rates and seasonal demand,” she said in a statement.

Hurricane Harvey, which moved over the large density of refineries in the southern United States, helped drive gas prices to $2.67 per gallon last month, their highest price for the year. AAA said inventory levels for gasoline are still lower in the region, though some states are catching up with national trends. Florida gas prices are about 2 percent lower than last week.

The Great Lakes region, the most volatile market in the country, was the only region to post a decline in gasoline inventory levels and, as a result, recorded the largest spike in retail gasoline prices. In terms of percent, Michigan had the largest price increase from last week at 4.6 percent to post a state average Tuesday of $2.50 per gallon. Swings in demand and fluctuations in response to the hurricanes in part led to the regional price increase.

The West Coast market, meanwhile, remains the most expensive, with California taking the top honors for the Lower 48 with a state average of $3.04 for Tuesday. AAA said, however, that the market is relatively stable as gasoline inventories swell.

The federal government said it expected a national average retail price for gas in October of $2.49 per gallon and $2.33 per gallon by the end of the year.