Gas prices drop three cents in Virginia this week: AAA

gas pricesAs drivers along the West Coast and throughout the Mid-West start paying more at the pump, Mid-Atlantic motorists are enjoying another week of lower local gas prices. Prices in Virginia have dropped by as much as three cents in some regions this week.  However, the downward trend will likely reverse as a spring spike is likely to begin in the weeks ahead.

Today’s national gas price average is $2.53, which is unchanged in the last week, down five cents in the last month and 23 cents higher than this time last year.

“This year, fluctuating crude oil prices, strong gasoline demand and new U.S. oil production records have created a volatile gas price market from month to month for consumers,” said Tammy Arnette, senior public affairs specialist for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Typically, March brings more expensive pricing as days get longer, weather gets warmer and refineries gear up to switchover to pricier summer blends.”

At the close of NYMEX trading Friday, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil settled at $62.04 per barrel, up 79 cents from the previous week. Crude prices have been under pressure lately as forecasts for U.S. oil production over the next several years continue to indicate big increases. The latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) report showed U.S. commercial crude inventories increased by 2.4 million barrels last week and over the past two weeks, storage levels have swelled by 5 million barrels. On Tuesday, the EIA released updated its Short-Term Energy Outlook, noting WTI crude oil prices will average $58 per barrel in 2018 and 2019.

Last week, President Trump announced a plan to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports. Trump signed the orders Thursday afternoon during a White House event featuring steel and aluminum workers. A letter from eight U.S. oil and gas trade associations urged the President to at least allow exemptions for energy projects materials if he moves ahead with the plan. The letter stated that new tariffs may delay or cancel future projects resulting in, among other things, potential higher prices at the pump.