AAA says California’s average price is $4.655 a gallon, more than a dollar above the national average
By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — While gas prices have soared nationwide this year, the lowest average prices at the pump are in Oklahoma and Texas, in part because they are significant oil and gas hubs for the nation.
The lowest current average regular gas prices per gallon are $2.822 in Oklahoma and $2.825 in Texas.
California remains far above those prices, with an average of $4.655 a gallon as of Wednesday, according to the American Automobile Association.
In Santa Barbara County, the average price on Wednesday was $4.621 a gallon. Again, that’s according to AAA.
Neighboring counties are seeing more expensive gas. On Wednesday, AAA reported the average price as $4.699 a gallon in Ventura County and $4.806 a gallon in San Luis Obispo County.
The national average is $3.283 a gallon, AAA reported.
Oklahomans have had the lowest prices nationwide throughout the surge of gas prices this fall, the American Automobile Association reported. In the spring, Oklahoma’s average gas prices were the sixth-lowest in the nation.
On Dec. 21, AAA Texas Weekend Gas watch reported that Texas’ statewide gas price average was $2.89 for a gallon of regular unleaded fuel.
By Christmas, Texans visiting the Gulf in Galveston paid $2.44 a gallon, lower than other areas near Houston, where prices averaged $2.89 a gallon.
However, gas prices in Texas are still around a dollar more than they were last Christmas. And last spring, while both states were under lockdown, average gas prices were $1.52 a gallon in Oklahoma, and in the Sherman/Denison area Texans were paying around $1.17 a gallon.
As of Dec. 28, 2021, the average price for regular unleaded fuel in Texas was $2.87 a gallon, AAA Texas reports, compared to the national average of $3.28.
In November, regular gasoline retail prices averaged $3.39 a gallon nationally, the U.S. Energy Information Agency reported. That’s 10 cents a gallon more than it was in October and $1.29 a gallon more than it was last November.
November’s monthly average was the highest since September 2014, the EIA added.
The agency forecasts that retail gasoline prices will fall to $3.01 a gallon in January and $2.88 a gallon, on average, in 2022.
Total U.S. crude oil production was estimated at 11.7 million barrels a day in November, the agency noted. It’s forecasting an increase to an average of 11.8 million barrels a day in 2022 and an average of 12.1 million barrels a day in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Prices at the pump are greatly impacted by the West Texas Intermediate Index, the benchmark for North America, which serves as a reference point for buyers and sellers of crude oil. They’re also impacted by U.S. EIA, API and OPEC+ reports, and a range of public policies and decisions.
The WTI’s crude oil is sourced from the Permian and Delaware Basins of Texas and New Mexico, and is refined in the Gulf of Mexico and the Midwest. The point of delivery for its physical exchange and price settlement has historically been Cushing, Okla.,, known as the “Pipeline Crossroads of the World.” But through new pipeline access the same crude is trading for export as AGS at U.S. Gulf ports.
In 2020 and 2021, WTI production plummeted for lack of drilling and completing new wells. Adequate crude supplies provided lower prices at the pump when the WTI crude oil average per barrel was $56.99 in 2019 and even lower when its average was $39.17 a barrel in 2020 – after it hit a low of negative $40 a barrel on April 20, 2020.
Gas prices at the pump increased as the WTI reached an average of $67.87 a barrel in 2021. The EIA projects the WTI average to be $66.42 a barrel in 2022; Wall Street analysts project it to be much higher.
Nationally, the average price for a regular gallon of gas was $2.60 in 2019, $2.18 in 2020, and $3 in 2021, the EIA reported, projecting the average to be $2.88 a gallon in 2022.
News-Press Managing Editor Dave Mason contributed to this report.