Gas prices flat in Mid-Atlantic
“Drivers are catching a lucky break for another week at the pump,” said Tammy Arnette, Senior Public Affairs Specialist for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Crude oil remains below $50 and the markets are well supplied, allowing motorists some extra green in their pockets.”
Today’s national average of $2.29 is one cent less than one week ago and one cent more than one month ago. Compared to this same date last year, consumers are paying 31 cents more per gallon at the pump.
Gas prices may continue to drop in the near future due to declining crude oil prices and a well-supplied market, but will begin to creep up again over the next month due to seasonal refinery maintenance and the May 1 required switchover for producing summer-blend gasoline. This prediction comes with the necessary caveat that an unexpected market-moving event, such as unplanned domestic refinery maintenance or further production cuts from OPEC and non-OPEC countries, could further impact prices and supply.
At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil was up 29 cents from last week to settle at $48.78 per barrel. Crude prices remained below the $50 mark all week as the global oil market remains oversupplied, and relatively high U.S. production levels continue to support bearish market sentiment. The possibility of continued production compliance by OPEC is likely to keep the market relatively fickle in the near term. Traders will continue to keep a close eye on OPEC compliance and U.S. supply and production.
Analysts note the Mid-Atlantic region will be the last region to start refinery maintenance and make the switch to summer-blend gasoline. Prices at the pump should remain low until spring arrives as stations get rid of the less expensive winter-blend gasoline.