AAA: Gas prices drop again this week

gas pricesGas prices around the Mid-Atlantic region dropped for another week, as crude oil prices failed to return to the mid-$60 range reached just two weeks ago, and oil and gas supplies showed a gain.

These factors allow local drivers to keep a president or two in their wallets, even if it’s for a short time. As of today, Virginia has dropped four cents on the week.

Today’s national gas price average is $2.53, which is down five cents in the last week, down a penny in the last month and 25 cents higher than this time last year.

Although gas prices have dipped in the last few days, AAA believes they will take a significant turn in the next few weeks and spike in the second quarter of the year,” said Tammy Arnette, senior public affairs specialist for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “Refinery maintenance season is fast approaching.  As reduced refinery output and the switch to more-expensive summer-blend gasoline takes place, motorists can expect to pay as much as 25 to 35 cents more per gallon this spring.”

At the close of NYMEX trading Friday, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil settled at $61.68 per barrel, up $2.48 from the previous week. Crude prices have been lower in the past two weeks as investors worry that higher U.S. crude output, which hit a record 10.27 million barrels per day, will undermine attempts to curb global oil supplies. The International Energy Agency (IEA) said Tuesday that crude production from countries outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would likely exceed global demand for oil this year, further pressuring prices.

Drivers may see prices at the pump start to climb in the next few weeks as refinery maintenance season begins. If refineries supplying the Northeast perform their maintenance at the same time, limiting supply, prices at the pump could increase as much as 25 to 35 cents per gallon this spring.  The combination of these factors could lead to the most expensive gas prices since 2014 in the second quarter.  That said, AAA does not expect that these potential peak prices highs will find their way into the summer months.

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