Augusta Free Press

Gas prices holding steady in Virginia

Gas prices have stayed put in many areas throughout the Commonwealth this week. Across the country, some states have seen prices start to creep higher in the last week, falling in line with AAA’s forecast of a price spike this spring.  Local drivers may have to wait another week or so to find out if the forecasted increase has taken hold.

Today’s national gas price average is $2.53, which is up a penny in the last week, down seven cents in the last month and 22 cents higher than this time last year.

At the close of NYMEX trading Friday, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil settled at $61.25 per barrel, down $2.30 from the previous week. As crude prices bounce around, hitting multi-week lows this week, U.S. crude production continues to soar. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that crude oil inventories increased by 3.0 million barrels. Some analysts believe that U.S. oil production alone could cause the global market to shift from a roughly balanced dynamic to a surplus.

“Gas prices continue to trend cheaper for the majority of motorists as demand for consumer gasoline declines,” said Tammy Arnette, Senior Public Affairs Specialist for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “While cheaper gas prices are welcomed by motorists, AAA does not expect the trend to continue, as refinery maintenance wraps-up and the summer-blend gasoline hits the pumps.  Consumers can expect prices to likely increase throughout April, May and into the start of summer.”

AAA does not expect the national gas price to be reminiscent of 2011-2014, when motorists were paying on average $3.47 per gallon.  However, prices at the pump are expected to jump at least 20-30 cents per gallon this spring.  A new AAA survey found the vast majority of consumers would change their driving habits or lifestyle to offset higher gas prices. One in four say they would start making changes at $2.75, while 40 percent say $3.00 is their tipping point. Changes consumers said they would make include combining errands or trips (79%), driving less (73%), reducing shopping or dining out (61%), delaying major purchases (50%) and driving more fuel-efficient vehicles (46%).