Midwest refinery problems (May); Quebec train disaster (July); & U.S. threat of attack on Syria (Sept.) had greatest impact on 2013 gasoline prices
CHICAGO (Jan. 9) -- When shaping a perspective on gasoline prices and the events that had the greatest impact in 2013, there’s no question that three events stand above all others:
>Midwest refinery problems in May that pushed Chicago’s average price to an all-time record of $4.47 per gal.
>The July 6 disaster in Quebec when a Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway train hauling 72 tankers of crude crashed and killed 47 people;
>President Obama threatens a military strike on Syria (August).
2013 saw the annual spring ‘run up’ get an early start around Jan 21. Refineries began their annual maintenance checks and, concurrently, the national retail average at $3.25 per gallon around Jan 21 climbed steadily to $3.74 by Feb. 27. There's ten eye-opening facts about gasoline prices in 2013 that motorists should see (attached).
Again in May we saw refinery issues trigger another aggressive climb. Refinery issues on the West Coast and in the Great Lakes region especially propelled the national average from $3.49 around May 4 to $3.68 by May 21.
July delivered yet another hike and this time it was caused by the Lac Megantic, Quebec train disaster when 72 rail cars on the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway derailed there, leaving a wake of death and destruction. Crude oil prices climbed; gasoline inventory declined and the trend continued with political unrest in Egypt creating concerns about the Suez Canal shipping lanes. The national average price of gas- $3.49 on July 6- spiked to $3.68 by July 19. Following the horrific train crash in Quebec (July 6th) and the international debate over Syria, we saw crude oil prices spike in both instances and retail gas prices followed the same course.
If we had asked you last spring to predict which U.S. city would see the highest average price in the country during 2013, (it soared to $4.47 in June) most of you would probably have guessed Los Angeles, San Francisco or maybe New York...
But it was Chicago and that was due to a confluence of refinery problems that plagued the
Midwest. By June, at one point Milwaukee’s average price of gas was higher than Los Angeles. That’s a rarity we’re not likely to see any time soon. The map below shows the largest single day price increases in 2013, and not surprisingly, all the largest jumps occurred in the Midwest.
Still, it’s important to note the positives. All of the weather experts predicted considerably more hurricane activity in 2013, and instead, we saw one of the quietest years on record. That was a blessing because Sandy showed us in 2012 the havoc that one storm can deliver.
2013 also saw tremendous investment in ‘midstream’ infrastructure, the rail and pipelines necessary to bring more oil & gasoline from robust U.S. energy regions. It’s because of the energy growth; access to cheaper Canadian crudes and long-term fuel conservation trends that we expect 2014 to be a better year.
Americans spent, on average, $3.60 per gallon in 2012; $3.49 in 2013 and we’re projecting that total will be reduced to $3.39 for 2013… Barring the unforeseeable, we’re confident we’ll all pay slightly less overall.
For the more than 27 million consumers throughout the U.S. and Canada who now save money every time they buy gas by using the GasBuddy app, approximately two-thirds saved from 20 to 29 cents per gallon versus non-app users. Consumers in Nevada, California and S. Dakota respectively saved 57, 52, and 51 cents per gallon. Illinois app users saved 41 cents per gal.; and New York app users saved 30 cents per gal.
The map included below shows the savings the average GasBuddy app user could have saved per gallon, averaged throughout 2013. Motorists in California, for example, could have saved as much as $300 in 2013 simply by using GasBuddy’s free app to find the cheapest gasoline.
GasBuddy estimates it could collectively save motorists over a billion dollars in 2013 if every motorist utilized the free app and shopped around for the best gasoline prices in their area.
GasBuddy tracks gasoline prices at over 140,000 gas stations in all fifty states and offers a free smartphone app which has been downloaded by millions to help motorists easily find the lowest gasoline prices in their area. In addition, participating GasBuddy members have a chance to win $100 a day in free gasoline.