AAA: Gas prices continue upward push
Local gas prices continued to trend upward again this week, with no signs of stopping. Prices in Virginia are up as much as 16 cents since January 1st. The uncharacteristically high demand for gasoline and oil prices that are almost $10 above the same time last year have contributed the climb in prices.
Today’s national gas price average is $2.60, which is up two cents in the last week, up 11 cents in the last month and 33 cents higher than this time last year.
“Motorists are used to seeing gas prices drop the first few weeks of the year, so many are wondering if, and when, there will be a break in the upward trend,” said Tammy Arnette, senior public affairs specialist for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Looking ahead there may not be much of a break, if any, at the pump as refineries gear up for seasonal maintenance and the switchover to a more-expensive-to-produce summer blend gasoline in the coming months.”
At the close of NYMEX trading Friday, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil settled at $65.45 per barrel, 69 cents lower than the previous week but 16 percent higher than the same time last year. According to the Energy information Administration (EIA), crude oil inventories rose by 6.8 million barrels, ending a drawdown trend lasting 10 weeks. The inventory build was fostered by high crude production and imports.
The national gas price average jumped double digits in the first month of the year, an atypical trend for January, leaving motorists wondering if this is an indication of what lies ahead in 2018. Experts say anything is possible, considering demand for crude and exports are increasing at a time when demand typically drops off during the cold winter months.