Prices for crude oil and gasoline were lower at the end of 2018 than they were at the start of the year, marking the first time since 2015 the prices were lower at the end of the year than at the start, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
At the end of 2018, regular retail gasoline prices in the United States were an average of $2.28 per gallon, down 20 cents per gallon from the first week of 2018, according to AAA. On average for the year, prices increased 13% to $2.72 per gallon, from 2017, according to the EIA. However, gasoline prices started to decline rapidly in October, leading the prices to end the year lower than at the start.
International benchmark Brent crude oil ended 2018 at $54 per barrel, down $13 per barrel from the start of the year. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) ended 2018 at $45 per barrel, $15 lower than at the start of the year. On average, Brent and WTI crude oil were $72 and $65 per barrel, respectively, in 2018. However, prices fell sharply after reaching a peak of $86 and $76 per barrel, respectively, in October.
Between January and May, rising crude oil prices and high gasoline demand led gasoline prices to increase. Gasoline prices were flat from June to October before falling crude oil prices, high gasoline inventories and flattening gasoline demand resulted in prices falling by nearly 50 cents per gallon, between October and December, according to the EIA. The 17-week decline was the longest consecutive weekly price decrease in gasoline since the 17-week drop between October 2014 and January 2015.
In Arkansas, the average price of regular retail gasoline has declined more than 32 cents to $1.91 per gallon, over the past year, according to AAA. Over the past month, the average price in Arkansas has declined more than 23 cents per gallon.