AAA: Gas prices ticking upward

gas pricesGas prices in some regions of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast are beginning to rise slightly as the market makes the official shift to summer-grade blends and crude oil breaks the $50 mark this week.

Today’s national average price at the pump is $2.32 per gallon. This is the same price as compared to one month ago, but three cents higher than one week ago and 26 cents per gallon more than the same date last year.

“Regional gas prices are finally starting to increase slightly as the switch-over to summer blended gas occurs,” said Tammy Arnette, Senior Public Affairs Specialist for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “However, a recently reported AAA survey found that gas prices could increase as much as 40 cents a gallon this summer, but hopefully will stay under the $3 a gallon mark.”

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil was up $2.63 from last week to settle at $50.60 per barrel.

The combination of OPEC efforts to rebalance the market and increased U.S. production continues to put pressure on crude oil futures, which kept prices below $50 a barrel until Thursday. Per the Energy Information Administration (EIA), crude oil inventories increased by 0.9 million barrels to a total of 534.0 million barrels, leaving inventories 30.2 million barrels above last year (6.0%) and at the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Last Sunday, a joint committee of ministers representing OPEC and non-OPEC countries asked the OPEC Secretariat to examine the market and consider a possible production cut extension beyond the original six- month agreement. Last year, OPEC and non-OPEC countries agreed to cut their output by 1.8 million barrels a day for six months starting in January 2017. The Secretariat is expected to provide a recommendation in April, well before the current agreement is set to expire in June.