The latest state survey shows gasoline prices on the decline in Iowa, but a Department of Natural Resources analyst warns pump prices are likely to go back up for the coming holiday weekend. The D-N-R’s Tami Foster says the recent decline in the price of regular unleaded gasoline is a bit unusual because it’s happening during the summer driving season.
“We are approaching the 4th of July holiday weekend and that typically is the busiest time of year for travel,” Foster says. “We do anticipate that the price of gas will probably go up over the next week or so.” Foster predicts the increase will be in the range of five- or 10-cents a gallon. “At this time the market is somewhat stable. There are a lot of geopolitical issues that are certainly out there and that is keeping the market volatile,” Foster says. “But at this time it is not having a huge impact on the prices.”
Recent inventory reports indicate gasoline stockpiles are a bit less than expected, but Foster expects prices to rise about a dime rather than a quarter. According to Foster, refineries try to increase gasoline output during June to help build supplies in advance of the Independence Day holiday when demand rises but plant capacity is still somewhat reduced as a result of hurricane damage last year.
The price of gasoline with a ten-percent blend of ethanol dropped two cents to as much as 14 cents per gallon in the last four weeks. There is one area of the state, however, where ethanol-blended fuel prices increased. Pump prices at Council Bluffs-area gas stations averaged about four cents higher for E-10 this month compared to the middle of May.
Sales of E-85 reached record levels in May, with 181-thousand gallons of the highest-concentration of ethanol being sold. E-85 sales so far this year are greater than in all of 2005. Seventy-two percent of all the gasoline sold in Iowa in May was E-10.