The Energy Information Administration collects retail gasoline prices every Monday for 10 cities across the country and publishes them the same day. This gives it a very careful record of price fluctuations throughout the year. At the end of the year it publishes the range for each city, which is represented by this chart.
The vertical axis is the price of gas, with the scale ranging from $2.50 to $5.00 per gallon. The horizontal axis represents the ten cities, from west to east. The cities are also color-coded so they can be matched on the map. The bar represents the range of prices over the year. The number below the bar is the amount over which the price ranged. Thus prices in San Francisco and Chicago ranged by $1.16 while in Boston and New York it only ranged 62 cents. There is nothing on the graph to indicate when these highs and lows occurred.
Generally, prices peaked across the country in early spring and then came down for the rest of the year. The $4.70 a gallon price in Los Angeles, however, occurred in October when the West Coast was hit by refinery outages. The lowest prices were recorded in Houston and Denver, which are production centers. Chicago also had very high prices and a wide range, while the east coast was generally lower and very uniform from Boston to Miami.
The EIA attributes 66 percent of the price of gasoline to crude oil prices. Other factors then include refinery operations, grade specification changes and state taxes. The national average for the year was $3.62 for gasoline and $3.97 for diesel fuel, both record highs. The Administration also notes that this was the second calendar year in a row that that the price of gas never fell below $3 per gallon.