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Fuel Prices Moved in Tighter Range Last Year

NATIONAL REPORT -- Retail prices for regular-grade gasoline moved in tighter ranges throughout the country in 2013, compared to previous years.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), changes in prices at the pump can be attributed to factors such as crude oil prices, refinery outages, inventory levels and seasonal fuel-specification changes. Last year, crude oil prices in particular led to the declining price at the pump.

The price of a regular gallon of fuel was $3.50 last year, 11 cents less than in 2012. Whereas in some years, prices can fluctuate up to $2 per gallon in a region, last year did not see any such changes.

The EIA identifies five regions: East Coast, Midwest, Gulf, Rockies and West Coast. Among those regions, the Midwest saw the most variation in fuel prices. In Chicago, fuel prices ranged $1.11 per gallon from the highest to the lowest price. In early June, prices peaked in Chicago, when the average cost of a regular gallon reached $4.36 due to a series of refinery outages. But by November, the price had moderated by more than $1 per gallon.

Los Angeles was the only place to approach Chicago's high-water mark, when prices peaked at $4.34 per gallon on Feb. 25.

Conversely, the lowest price for 2013 was recorded in the Rocky Mountain region of Denver. In January, the price in this region dropped to $2.81 per gallon, the lowest recorded for the year. The highest price in the Rocky Mountain region reached $3.56 per gallon in late February.

The East Coast and Gulf Coast also saw their highest prices in late February. On the East Coast, gas prices peaked at $3.99 per gallon in Miami, but moderated to $3.27 per gallon in early November. The highest price seen in the Gulf Coast was $3.61. However, the price of a regular gallon dropped all the way to $2.94 on Nov. 11.

According to the EIA, the weekly U.S. average price did not drop below $3 per gallon at any point in 2013, marking the third calendar year in a row that such a statement can be made. The lowest nationwide weekly average was seen on Nov. 11 at $3.19 per gallon. The highest price reported was $3.78 per gallon on Feb. 25.

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