Stuck in neutral — Gas prices flat to start new year

(January 5, 2022) WASHINGTON, D.C.  — Gasoline prices barely budged over the past week, as fears of an omicron-driven economic “soft shutdown” dominate the news. Meanwhile, the pre-Christmas fire at the Exxon Mobil Corp plant in Baytown, Texas, is causing reduced output. Recent reporting, however, indicates the damage was to a non-refining section of the complex. The plant is the nation’s fourth-biggest oil refinery, with the capacity to process 560,500 barrels per day of crude. The national average for a gallon of gas remained at $3.28 on the week.

“There is a lot of uncertainty about the potential economic impact of the COVID-19 omicron variant. Will it peak quickly and vanish as some hope, or will it linger as others fear?” said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson. “And we are seeing this reflected at the pump in the form of uneasy price stability.”

According to new data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), total domestic gasoline stocks decreased slightly by 1.5 million barrels to 222.7 million barrels last week. Gasoline demand increased from 8.99 million barrels a day to 9.72 million barrels a day. Growing demand and tight supply would support more significant increases in pump prices, but fluctuations in the price of crude oil have helped to limit price increases. If oil prices climb, pump prices will likely follow suit.

This week's national average of $3.28 is eight cents less than a month ago and $1.03 more than a year ago.

Quick stats

The nation’s top 10 largest weekly changes: Oregon (+6 cents), Texas (+5 cents), New Mexico (+4 cents), Arizona (−4 cents), South Carolina (+3 cents), Washington. D.C. (+3 cents), Washington (+3 cents), Arkansas (+3 cents), Utah (−3 cents) and Delaware (−3 cents).

The nation’s top 10 most expensive markets: California ($4.65), Hawaii ($4.33), Washington ($3.88), Nevada ($3.83), Oregon ($3.82), Alaska ($3.70), Arizona ($3.61), Idaho ($3.56), Pennsylvania ($3.52) and Connecticut ($3.49).