WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- A federal survey of retail gasoline prices in the United States in 2016 found consumers paid the lowest average price at the pump last year in 12 years.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said the average retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the country last year was $2.14, 12 percent lower than the previous year and the lowest annual average price since 2004.
Crude oil prices moved from above $100 per barrel in 2014 to below $30 per barrel in early 2016 and EIA said that was the main contributor to lower gasoline prices last year.
"In nine of the 10 cities for which EIA collects weekly retail price data, gasoline prices did not exceed $3.00 per gallon," the report read.
The West Coast is the most expensive market in the country in part because of higher state and local fuel taxes. Of the cities surveyed by EIA, Los Angeles had the highest gas prices on average last year, peaking at $3.11 per gallon in early January after a series of regional refinery outages
Southern states bordering the Gulf of Mexico, meanwhile, tend to have the lowest gas prices nationally. Of the cities surveyed by EIA, Houston had the lowest prices on average last year, with a peak of $2.10 in mid-June.
Crude oil prices declined sharply in early 2016 in response to a glut of oil in the global market. A late 2016 decision from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to trim production starting in January pushed crude oil prices back above $50 per barrel late in the year. Oil prices are now making a run at $60 per barrel, or roughly 70 percent higher than on this date last year.
Motor club AAA reports a national average retail price for gasoline at $2.37 per gallon for Friday, about 8 percent higher than last week. Several states started the year with an increase in fuel taxes, which contributed to the spike in retail prices.
AAA reported that gasoline demand typically declines in January and that could bring some relief to the pump.