World Hot Spots Hiking Pump Prices

Published in CSP Daily News

But retailer's slice of price pie is skinnier, says Lundberg

CAMARILLO, Calif. --The U.S. average retail price of regular grade gasoline jumped 11.67 cents per gallon in the past two weeks, to $3.4111. Retail margin on regular shrank by more than two cents to a skinny nine cents per gallon, according to the most recent Lundberg Survey of approximately 2,500 U.S. gas stations.

Conflagrations in Venezuela, Ukraine and South Sudan spooked oil prices, translating to large wholesale gasoline price hikes that have been just partially passed through by retailers on to the street.

Higher ethanol prices also contributed to wholesale gasoline price increase.

If the oil market perception of threat to world petroleum supply worsens from here, then oil prices would continue rising, adding to the already likely few more cents at the pump. And if oil price hikes were to continue through mid-April, when U.S. refiners will be rolling out higher-cost, lower-vapor-pressure summer gasoline for their May 1 deadline to meet the June 1 retail deadline, then the two developments would coincide for a double whammy gasoline price jump.

However, for now, the crude oil market hasn't freaked out, gasoline supplies are abundant and higher summer formulation costs do not yet apply. In the country's only region where the summer specs come early, a portion of Southern California which is heavily driven by the dealer tankwagon channel, dealers do not yet pay summer blend gasoline prices.

Also, the current national average retail price sits some 38 cents per gallon under its year-ago point, a positive for consumer demand.

Camarillo, Calif.-based Lundberg Survey Inc. is an independent market research company specializing in the U.S. petroleum marketing and related industries.

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