AAA: Gas prices hold steady
Two weeks into the summer driving season, the national average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $3.66 per gallon, even with last Friday. This is a penny less than last month and three cents more than on the same date last year. Entering the summer months, AAA expects that drivers will experience little relief at the pump and prices are likely to remain near a range of $3.55-$3.70 per gallon, which is similar to last summer’s range of $3.47-$3.67. Continuing geopolitical concerns, major refinery disruptions or a severe hurricane season (June 1- November 30) could send the national average higher than anticipated, while the absence of such catalysts could allow prices to fall below this range.
Crude oil remained relatively stable throughout the week. Though the situation in Russia and Ukraine remains unresolved, crude oil prices dipped slightly as hopes of a peace plan might ease the crisis. The commodity’s stability could also be the result of White House reports that Iran agreed to take steps to halt their nuclear program in exchange for a six-month temporary lifting of economic sanctions. The White House also said that the global market has enough oil to cut off Iranian oil imports. Crude oil settled at $102.66 Friday, virtually unchanged from a week ago, marking the 19th consecutive settlement above the $100 per barrel threshold.
In its weekly report, the Energy Information Administration noted that U.S. crude oil stocks dropped 3.4 million barrels to 389.5 million barrels. Gasoline inventories nudged higher by 200,000 barrels to 211.8 million barrels. Gasoline demand remained over 9 million barrels per day (bpd) even with a drop of more than 200,000 bpd at 9.104 million bpd. The most recent 9-million-b/d-plus marker from the EIA represents the fourth consecutive week above that benchmark. However, what may stand out a bit more is a four-week average that stands at 9.195 million b/d, the highest four-week average reading since the July 8, 2011 period.
“While it is impossible to predict the exact price of gasoline, we can guarantee that millions of Americans will pay high prices as they hit the roads this summer,” said Jana L. Tidwell, Public Affairs Specialist for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Expect a feeling of déjà vu with gasoline costing about the same as last summer, as stronger than expected demand (after the brutal winter) has kept prices high heading into the summer driving season.”
AAA expects gas prices to remain relatively high during the summer driving season as millions of Americans take long road trips to destinations nationwide. AAA predicts the national average price of gas this summer likely will vary from $3.55-$3.70 per gallon. Looking ahead, gas prices often tick higher from Independence Day through August during the height of the summer driving season as refineries work to keep pace with high demand. In addition, the threat of potential hurricanes and disruption along the U.S. Gulf Coast can result in higher prices, although the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a less active than usual storm period in 2014.
CURRENT AND PAST GAS PRICE AVERAGES
Regular Unleaded Gasoline (*indicates record high)
|6/8/14||Week Ago||Year Ago|
|Crude Oil||$102.66 per barrel (at Friday’s close)||$102.71 per barrel (5/30/14)||$94.76 per barrel