Rising Gas Prices Hit the Pause Button Despite Demand Reaching Four-Month High

Rising Gas Prices Hit the Pause Button Despite Demand Reaching Four-Month High

News Release | AAA Idaho

BOISE – (July 14, 2020) – U.S. fuel demand recently hit its highest level since March at 8.7 million barrels per day, but most Americans didn’t feel it at the pump.  According to AAA, falling fuel supplies weren’t enough to seriously impact gas prices this week.  The national average went up by just two cents to $2.20 per gallon, while Idaho gas prices have held at $2.35 since the beginning of July.  Both are significant savings from a year ago.

From May to early July last year, the average gasoline demand reached 9.5 million b/d.  But this year’s lower demand has created an unexpected surplus – an additional 24 million barrels of gasoline in reserve that is helping to keep pump prices in check.  But the demand for fuel could be on shaky ground in the coming weeks and months.

“During the stages of re-opening, some people have grown more confident getting behind the wheel, including the 97 percent of summer travelers who say they’ll take a road trip this year,” says AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde.  “But with the number of COVID-19 cases soaring in Idaho and other parts of the country, that confidence is pretty fragile these days.  If states change course and start imposing more travel restrictions, demand will fall, and gas prices along with it.”

Today, the U.S. average price is $2.20, which is ten cents more than a month ago, but 59 cents less than a year ago.  Meanwhile, Idaho’s current price is $2.35, a nickel more expensive than a month ago and 60 cents cheaper than a year ago.

The most expensive fuel in the Rockies region can be purchased in Colorado at $2.48 per gallon, while the cheapest fuel in the region can be found in Wyoming at $2.15 per gallon.  The region’s gasoline stocks currently sit at 7.5 million barrels, a typical measurement for summertime in the Rockies.  If demand holds steady or even drops, abundant fuel supplies could continue to relieve some of the upward pressure on gas prices.

Since the beginning of the month, the West Texas Intermediate benchmark for crude oil has been trading near $40 per barrel, about four dollars more than a month ago and 20 dollars less than a year ago.  According to the Energy Information Administration, total domestic crude inventories increased by 5.7 million bbl last week, a sign that the market is still oversupplied.

AAA expects to rescue more than 14,000 motorists at the roadside this summer, about 15 percent less than last year.  Engine problems (including fluid leaks and overheating), dead batteries, lockouts, and flat tires will be the biggest culprits.  As the mercury continues to climb across Idaho, AAA encourages drivers to pack an emergency kit, including water, and take their vehicle in for a pre-trip inspection before they head out for a summer adventure.

Here’s a sample of gas prices around the Gem State as of 7/14/20:

  • Boise - $2.39
  • Coeur d’Alene - $2.26
  • Franklin - $2.28
  • Idaho Falls - $2.24
  • Lewiston - $2.44
  • Pocatello - $2.28
  • Twin Falls - $2.27
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