Lundberg in

CSP, September 13, 2021:
Gasoline Demand Prospects Dimming …
… But refiners, retailers in decent defense position

CSP, August 30, 2021:
Watchword: Volatility
Oil, COVID and Ida fight for gasoline price control

CSP, August 16, 2021:
Crude Oil Price Break Blesses Refiners
Marketers, retailers hope it flows downstream

CSP, July 26, 2021:
Gasoline Price Rises Petering Out, Crude Willing
Retail margin awarded one-penny gain

CSP, July 12, 2021:
Refiners, Retailers Took Their Nickel Back
Gasoline price now $3.21 per gallon

CSP, June 28, 2021:
Crude Oil: What, Me Worry?
Downstream gasoline margins suffer, motorists limp to pump

CSP, September 13, 2021:
Gasoline Demand Prospects Dimming …
… But refiners, retailers in decent defense position

CAMARILLO, Calif. — The U.S. average retail price of regular-grade gasoline rose 1.99 cents per gallon (CPG) in the past two weeks, after dropping about that same amount in the prior two weeks which was this year's sole period of decline, according to the most recent Lundberg Survey of U.S. fuel markets. So the pump price is back where it started one month ago.

The current national retail price is $3.2450, 98 cents higher than its year-ago point.

The petroleum price volatility of two weeks ago has calmed. Light-grade crude oils gained the equivalent of 3 CPG since Aug. 27, leading retail gasoline by a penny, with no known dramatic crude oil supply or price changes looming on the near horizon.

Hurricane Ida's gasoline price effects seem to have been a bit of an offset, with supply slammed and demand slammed as well. Some Louisiana refining capacity is already back up or in progress. There is no shortage, in part because demand is hurting.

Gasoline demand faces the still high pump prices and the normal seasonal decline, plus stronger inflation guiding consumer restraint, at a time of dim employment growth and vigorous anti-pandemic rules and restrictions—all negatively affecting the motoring public.

Assuming no dramatic oil price swings in either direction and the continued normalizing of U.S. refining capacity utilization post-Ida, near-term retail price changes may be small, and seem more likely to be down than up.

Fortunately for the U.S. downstream petroleum industry sectors, they are currently living within historically healthy gasoline margin territory.

Refiners again gave some up as they had finally done during Aug. 13-Aug. 27 but still enjoy historically high levels. Meanwhile, retailers gained margin again, and nicely. The nation's gasoline retailers have achieved margin recovery for 11 weeks now, from June 25's stark 21.11 CPG regular-grade margin to a far better 32.7 cents on Sept. 10. This is a retail margin gain of 11.59 cents over 11 weeks—not too shabby.

The overall national gasoline market is sickly thanks to multiple assaults on demand, but down-streamers have fortified themselves as best they can in order to prevail.

Two examples of comparatively healthy retail gasoline margin changes took place in Indianapolis and Los Angeles, both currently at the higher end of the margin scale.

Indianapolis had one of the largest retail price hikes among markets, jumping just over 15 cents, while wholesale prices moved up less than 4 cents on average, translating to a happy margin improvement to 37.59 CPG. Los Angeles retailers got an average 3.5 CPG wholesale price break in the past two weeks, while the retail price edged up 0.9 cents, translating to a sweet expansion of nearly 19 CPG margin, at the moment perched at 54.6 cents.

Click here for previous Lundberg Survey reports in CSP Daily News.

Trilby Lundberg is publisher of the Lundberg Survey of U.S. fuel markets. Lundberg Survey Inc. is based in Camarillo, Calif.

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