AAA: Gas prices continue five-week slide

gas pricesGas prices across the Mid-Atlantic region continue to decline, although not as dramatically as in weeks prior. Many areas are seeing prices that are a few cents lower on the week but have not yet reached pre-Hurricane Harvey levels.

Today’s national average is $2.46, which is a penny lower than this time last week, 13 cents lower than this time last month and 23 cents higher than this time last year.  While gas prices are more expensive than a year ago, the past five weeks of sustained weekly declines indicate that demand may be leveling out alongside refineries and pipelines returning to pre-hurricane operations.

“Gas prices in the Mid-Atlantic region are poised to reach pre-Hurricane Harvey levels in the coming weeks, following a five week decline,” said Tammy Arnette, senior public affairs specialist for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “Drivers will see stabilized or decreasing prices at the pump throughout this month due to high refinery production rates and low seasonal demand.”

At the close of NYMEX trading Friday, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil settled at $51.84 per barrel, 39 cents higher than the previous week’s closing price. Two factors contributing to slightly higher crude oil prices are – an explosion at an oil rig in Lake Ponchartrain (northwest of New Orleans) and Iraqi troops engaging with Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, near the nation’s oil fields.

The International Energy Agency’s October Oil Market Report forecasted that three of the four quarters in 2018 will see the oil market in balance, assuming unchanged OPEC production and normal weather conditions. Based on the report, the global crude market is projected to see an inventory build of 800,000 b/d during the first quarter of 2018. Moreover, growth in oil demand is expected to match the increase in production next year from nonmember countries of OPEC, such as the U.S., and could cap oil prices throughout 2018.

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