After a slight dip last week from the previous week's price, Houston's average cost of a gallon of for self-serve regular is again down, but only slightly. Overall, prices have remained essentially flat for the past several days at an average price of $3.162 per gallon for January 24, off less than a penny from last week. That average is based on prices reported by members of the local version of GasBuddy.com.
Houston's average is running about thirteen cents below the national average of $3.290, and less than a penny above the Texas average of $3.157. The national average rose by three cents over the week. Surveys of local stations by AAA suggest that the price of diesel fuel continues to hold steady, having declined by only a few cents even while the price of regular.fell by almost half a dollar during fall.
Flat crude oil prices are in part responsible for the price stability. The market price of North American benchmark crude, West Texas Intermediate, dropped back slightly from a four-month high to $95.90 per barrel today. That's up $10 per barrel since late October, but almost unchanged over the past month, and well below the high of about $107 per barrel in April, when Houston recorded its 2012 high of $3.89 per gallon. Today's price of European Brent Crude is about $113 per barrel, also less than 1% different from a recent plateau. Rising gasoline inventories during the winter driving season are offsetting even these slight increases in crude prices.
GasBuddy.com's Texas members report that the statewide average price is holding steady; near the bottom of a nationwide range from $2.772 in Wyoming to $4.072 in Hawaii. Lubbock is reporting the lowest prices among Texas metropolitan areas in the GasBuddy survey at just $2.933 per gallon. The Fort Worth average of $3.202 is the highest in the state. Cities in the central and southern Rockies have the lowest prices in the country, where prices along Colorado's Front Range are below $2.80 per gallon and still falling.
Here in the Houston area, GasBuddy members have spotted a range of prices from just under $3.00 per gallon in nearby Rosenberg to almost $3.50 per gallon near the West Loop and Galleria area. A year ago, the Houston-area average stood at $3.255; the national average was about nine cents higher.
This week's highest prices lie with the usual suspects on the east and west coasts. California's statewide average is $3.646 while several New England states are in the $3.50 to $3.70 range, with New Yorkers paying the mainland's highest prices at $3.695 per gallon. The only city among GasBuddy's metro areas showing an average price of more than $4.00 per gallon is Honolulu, where motorists shell out $4.029 on average. Drivers in Omaha, Des Moines, Eugene and Toms River are paying closest to the national average, about $3.29 per gallon, to fill their tanks.