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Gasoline demand hits record high as pump prices hold steady

Staff Reports • Updated Jun 6, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Tennessee gas prices declined almost a full cent last week. 

Gas prices in Tennessee averaged $2.11 Sunday, according to AAA, in which data is collected from credit card swipes and direct feeds from 120,000 gas stations nationwide, in cooperation with OPIS and Wright Express. 

The state average was 3 cents less than a month ago, and 9 cents less than the same time last year. Summer gas prices averaged $2.03 last year, and $2.45 the year before.

The most expensive gas price averages in Tennessee were in Nashville at $2.15, Memphis at $2.12 and Clarksville-Hopkinsville at $2.09. The least expensive gas price averages in Tennessee were in Chattanooga at $2.01, Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol at $2.08 and Knoxville at $2.09.

The national average price for gasoline drifted slightly higher last week. Sunday’s average price of $2.38 was 1 cent more than a week ago.

Gasoline demand reached record highs during Memorial Day weekend, according to data provided by the EIA. That, combined with another week of declining crude inventories, was still not enough to boost oil prices. The price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil settled at $47.66 per barrel Friday – the lowest daily settlement in three weeks. The market will likely stay at current levels until there are more significant draws in supplies. Reuters reported the market moved lower in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, which speculators believe would spur further domestic production and contribute to a persistent global oversupply. U.S. oil production climbed again last week, hitting 9.34 million barrels per day – the highest level since August 2015. U.S. drillers added 11 rigs last week, setting a new record of 20 consecutive weeks of growth.

“This bearish sentiment has set the stage for lower prices at the pump,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA. “How the market responds this week will be a strong indicator for where gas prices will go this summer. As it stands right now, summer gas prices should remain at or below last year’s levels.”

Crude oil prices dropped $2 last week, settling at $47.66 – the lowest daily settlement since May 10. U.S. crude inventories decreased by 6.4 million barrels from the week before. Domestic crude production climbed, reaching the highest level since August 2015, growing another 22,000 barrels per day.

Refineries are running strong, at a rate of 1 percent higher than the week before. Wholesale gasoline prices lost strength by about 3.7 percent last week. Domestic gasoline production increased 1.8 percent compared to the week prior. Gasoline supplies dropped 1.2 percent domestically, but grew 0.13 percent at Gulf Coast refineries.

Gasoline demand reached record-highs, with implied demand levels growing 1.2 percent from the week prior and almost 1.1 percent better than the same time last year. Even still, the four-week average remained lower than last year, by 0.7 percent.