On May 18, the U.S. average retail price of gasoline was $2.74 per gallon, or 92 cents a gallon 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 more than $45 per barrel lower than it was at this time last year, despite having increased more than $10 per barrel since the beginning of February.
Average retail prices for all regions of the country are below levels reported at this time last year, even in the West Coast Region, where supply disruptions pushed gasoline prices to $3.51 per gallon on May 18, 77 cents higher than the U.S. average. Average retail gasoline prices are lowest on the Gulf Coast, at $2.47 a gallon on May 18. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) notes that 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.
In the May Short-Term Energy Outlook, EIA projects the U.S. monthly gasoline price to average $2.68 per gallon for all of May, then decline as refineries in California resolve outages and refineries in the rest of the country increase production. Government analysts also project retail gasoline prices will average $2.51 a gallon during the third quarter of 2015.