AAA: Gas prices continue monthlong climb

AAA LogoThe national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has increased for 31 consecutive days (through Friday) for a total of 34 cents per gallon, which is the longest streak of rising prices since last spring.

The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline rose to $2.37 per gallon Friday.  Motorists are paying nine cents more than one week ago and 33 cents more than one month ago to refuel their vehicles.  The year-over-year discount at the pump has narrowed in recent weeks but remains lofty by historic standards.  After yearly savings widened to as much as $1.25 per gallon on January 26, motorists are now saving $1.07 per gallon versus this same date last year.  Compared to the start of February when motorists in 25 states enjoyed average prices below $2 per gallon, March will begin with gas price averages above $2 per gallon in every state in the union.

Global crude oil prices remain volatile, with markets continuing to seesaw and West Texas Intermediate crude oil last week posting its first weekly loss in a month. The balance between global supply and demand continues to weigh on prices, and despite U.S. production companies reassessing plans for exploration and production amid shrinking profit margins, domestic crude oil inventories climbed to record levels and output rose to its highest level since 1973, according to a Department of Energy report released last week.  At the close ofFriday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, crude oil settled at $49.76 per barrel, down less than $1 on the week.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) noted in its weekly report that crude oil inventories grew by 8.4 million barrel build, reaching 434.1 million barrels and extending the weekly record streak.  Over the last two weeks alone, crude oil inventories have grown by more than 16 million barrels.  Gasoline stocks dropped 3.1 million barrels to 240 million barrels, which is still high for this time of year.

“The thrill of falling gas prices is gone, as every state in the U.S. has seen gas prices jump above the $2 per gallon mark,” said Martha M. Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “While ample U.S. fuel supplies should act as a ceiling on gas prices, recent refinery issues (especially due to extreme cold temperatures in the Northeast) have pushed gas prices higher the past few weeks.”

Refineries are in the midst of conducting seasonal maintenance, a process that can limit fuel production and contribute to rising pump prices.  In addition, there remains the potential for unexpected refinery problems to further impact production and cause temporary prices spikes in various regions.  Last week an explosion at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance helped push up prices in California, while bitterly cold weather in the Northeast and Midwest led to a number of refinery problems in those areas.  Ample domestic supply is expected to keep a ceiling on prices, though there is a good chance that prices will continue to rise this spring. Barring any major disruptions in supply, AAA anticipates drivers will continue to pay below $3.00 per gallon throughout 2015.

 

CURRENT AND PAST GAS PRICE AVERAGES

Regular Unleaded Gasoline (*indicates record high)

 

3/1/15Week Ago

2/22/15

Year Ago

3/1/14

National$2.41$2.29$3.45
Virginia$2.25$2.17$3.25
Charlottesville$2.26$2.16$3.21
Norfolk Area$2.29$2.21$3.25
Richmond$2.23$2.18$3.24
Roanoke$2.18$2.08$3.23
Crude Oil$49.76

per barrel

(Friday 2/27/15 close)

$50.34

per barrel

(Friday 2/20/15 close)

$102.40

per barrel

(2/27/14)



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