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Economy in Brief

U.S. Energy Prices Are Mixed
by Tom Moeller  September 22, 2020

• Crude oil prices recover part of recent decline.

• Gasoline prices edge lower.

• Natural gas prices tumble.

The price for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil recovered to an average of $39.55 per barrel (-33.3% y/y) in the week ended September 18 after falling sharply to $37.39 per barrel in the prior week. Yesterday, the price was $39.31 per barrel. The price of Brent crude oil prices rose to an average $41.77 per barrel (-35.9% y/y) last week after falling to $40.47 per barrel. The price was $41.52 per barrel yesterday.

Regular gasoline prices slipped to $2.17 per gallon (-18.3% y/y) in the week ended September 21. Haver Analytics adjusts the gasoline price series for usual seasonal variation. The seasonally adjusted price fell three cents to $2.11 per gallon last week. The reformulated RBOB Regular Gasoline Spot Price rose three cents to $1.28 per gallon last week.

Natural gas prices declined sharply to $1.93/mmbtu (-26.6% y/y) in the week ended September 18. Prices were at the lowest level since the end of July. Yesterday, prices collapsed to $1.33/mmbtu.

In the four weeks ended September 4, gasoline demand declined 9.9% y/y. Total petroleum product demand fell 16.0% y/y. Crude oil input to refineries was down 20.2% y/y in the past four weeks. Gasoline inventories were 1.3% above a year ago and stocks of all petroleum products were 7.0% higher y/y. The ratio of oil inventories-to-demand jumped to a record 143 days in mid-April. In early September, they stood at a still elevated 111 days.

These data are reported by the U.S. Department of Energy. The price data can be found in Haver's WEEKLY and DAILY databases. Greater detail on prices, as well as the demand, production and inventory data, along with regional breakdowns, are in OILWKLY.

Weekly Energy Prices 09/21/20 09/14/20 09/07/20 Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon Regular, Monday Price, End of Period) 2.17 2.18 2.21 -18.3 2.57 2.27 2.47
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI ($ per bbl, Previous Week's Average) 39.55 37.39 41.59 -33.3 56.91 64.95 50.87
Natural Gas ($/mmbtu, LA, Previous Week's Average) 1.93 2.16 2.16 -26.6 2.57 3.18 2.99
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