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Jana Tidwell
Public Relations Manager, PA
O: (302) 299-4426
C: (302) 353-6563

Kathleen Zinszer
Sr. Public Aff. Specialist, CT/DE/NJ/PA
O: (302) 299-4168
C: (610) 291-7312

AAA Mid-Atlantic: Area Gas Prices Spike ahead of Record-Breaking Independence Day Travel Volume

PES refinery fire/closure sends local gas prices soaring as nearly 560,000 Philadelphia-area residents prepare to hit the road for the July4th holiday.

PHILADELPHIA, PA (July 2, 2019) The recent fire and closure announcement at the Philadelphia Energy Solution’s (PES) Philadelphia refinery has sent local gas prices soaring just ahead of the July 4th holiday.  Since the PES refinery fire on June 21, local gas prices have jumped double digits in some areas. 

PES is the largest refinery on the East Coast, producing 335,000 barrels of crude per day and accounting for 27 percent of East Coast refining capacity. 

Regular Unleaded Gasoline (*indicates record high) 



Refinery Fire





+5 cents




+9 cents

Philadelphia (5-county)



+5 cents

South Jersey



+13 cents




+12 cents

Factors driving up gas prices:

  • Crude oil prices: West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was priced as low as $51.13 in mid-June, but has since jumped more than $8 to land as high as $59.43. Crude accounts for as much as 60% of the retail gasoline price.
  • Supply: The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports total U.S. stocks at 232 million barrels for the week ending June 21, which is the lowest June stock level seen since 2015.
  • Demand:Demand remains robust for peak summer driving season at a four-week average of 9.6 million barrels per day. EIA reports gasoline stocks drew down for a second week in its latest report. This trend isn’t likely to stop this week, especially with 41.4 million Americans expected to hit the road for the Independence Day holiday.
  • Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES): Last week, PES announced that they will permanently close the South Philadelphia refinery this month, which is the oldest and largest refinery on the East Coast. The announcement came following a June fire and explosion at the refinery, which produces 335,000 barrels of crude per day (42 U.S. gallons per barrel) and accounting for 27 percent of East Coast refining capacity. While gasoline stocks from Canada, neighboring refineries, and the Colonial Pipeline will help backfill supply, retailers will likely face increased transportation costs which will drive up prices in the Northeast and surrounding regions.
  • Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC): OPEC and its partners are meeting this week in Vienna and are likely to extend the current production reduction agreement of 1.2 million b/d through the end of the year, which could push crude oil prices more expensive.

AAA will continue to monitor the situation and provide motorists with updates on how this will impact summer gas prices. 

Record Breaking 660,000 Philadelphia-Area Residents will Travel 

More Americans than ever recorded by AAA, nearly 49 million, are making plans to honor the red, white and blue with an Independence Day getaway this year, more than 2 million more than last year.  AAA Mid-Atlantic projects more than 660,000 Philadelphia area residents plan to travel 50 miles or more to mark the second summer holiday weekend. The number represents a nearly four percent increase over last year’s forecast. The Independence Day holiday period is defined as Wednesday, July 3 to Sunday, July 7. 

By the Numbers: 2019 Philadelphia Region Independence Day Holiday Travel Forecast

  • Automobiles: The vast majority of Philadelphia area travelers – more than 557,000 – will hit the road this Independence Day, 3.9 percent more than last year.
  • Planes: A record-breaking 57,000-plus people will travel by air, a 6.7 percent increase locally and the tenth year of consecutive air travel volume increases.

Record-level drivers equals record-level delays

For the 41.4 million Americans traveling by automobile this Independence Day, INRIX (a global transportation analytics company), in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Wednesday, July 3 as commuters mix with holiday travelers. In major metros, drivers could face delays as much as four times a normal commute. Drivers should avoid peak commuting hours altogether or consider alternative routes.

“Independence Day is a time for the much loved family road trip and this year will be one for the record books, with more Americans than ever planning vacations,” said Jana Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “This holiday builds on the strong travel demand seen for Memorial Day, and with schools now out of session, families are eager to travel.” 

2019 Projected Independence Day Holiday Travelers - Philadelphia (5-county) Area 


Total Population

2019 Travelers

Percent of population traveling

Percent change vs. 2018


(5-county) TOTAL






(5-county) Auto

83.9% of people travel by car





(5-county) Air

8.7% of people travel by air










Auto, Air & Other








83.9% of people travel by car






8.7% of people travel by air









National TOTAL

329.5 million*

48.9 million



National Auto


84.7% of people travel by car

41.4 million



National Air


8.0% of people travel by air

3.9 million



*U.S. Census Bureau/IHS Global Insight (v2018)


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Mailing Address:
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Philadelphia, PA 19159

AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and more than three million members in Pennsylvania.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android.  For more information, visit

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