The average U.S. retail gasoline price ended 2018 lower than it started due to the oil supply glut, rising inventories and the decline in crude oil prices, the U.S.' Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a statement on Friday.
The average retail gasoline price in the country was around $2.64 per gallon (3.78 liters) for the week ending Jan. 1, 2018, according to the EIA data.
The average price for retail gasoline stood at $2.36 per gallon for the week ending Dec. 31, 2018, the data showed, posting a 10.6 percent decline.
From January through May last year, increasing crude prices and high gasoline demand led to rising gasoline prices in the U.S., the EIA said.
From June through October, gasoline prices remained relatively stable, but started their decline in the last three months of 2018.
"... Falling oil prices, high gasoline inventories, and flattening U.S. gasoline demand helped bring the U.S. average price down by nearly $0.50 per gallon between October and December," the statement said.
"The national price for gasoline declined for 12 weeks in a row at the end of 2018, which marked the longest consecutive weekly drop since the 17-week decline from October 2014 through January 2015," it added.
- Trump's criticism
The U.S. President Donald Trump has long criticized high crude oil prices and pointed the finger at OPEC, while requesting that the cartel maintain its output to reduce crude prices.
"Hopefully, Saudi Arabia and OPEC will not be cutting oil production. Oil prices should be much lower based on supply!" Trump wrote on social media on Nov. 12.
Saudi-led OPEC and its allies, including Russia, agreed on Dec. 7 in Vienna to curb their total production by 1.2 million barrels per day for six months beginning Jan. 1 in order to boost prices.
The decision, however, had very little immediate effect on the global oil market, and crude prices have started falling again with the glut of supply and U.S. crude production remaining near record high levels.
With the decline in crude prices, the average retail gasoline price in the U.S. also decreased, which Trump took the credit for.
"Do you think it’s just luck that gas prices are so low, and falling? Low gas prices are like another Tax Cut!" he wrote on Twitter on Jan. 1.
Trump wants gasoline prices to remain low in the U.S. in order to boost economic growth, in addition to gaining popularity among the American population, which was most evident before the U.S. congressional elections held on Nov. 6.
The average retail gasoline price in the U.S. peaked in 2018 at $3.04 per gallon for the week ending May 28, according to the EIA data, due to high seasonal demand when the driving season kicked off.
Gasoline prices plunged by 6.6 percent to $2.84 a gallon for the week ending Nov. 5 -- the day before the mid-term elections. Nonetheless, the price fall failed to help the Republicans preserve their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.
By Ovunc Kutlu