AAA: Gas prices holding steady

gas pricesGas prices across the Mid-Atlantic region appear to be treading water as the consistent dip in prices seen for the past few weeks has begun to stall, ahead of the start to refinery maintenance season.

Today’s national average price of $2.28 is the same as one week ago, five cents less than a month ago and an increase of 56 cents per gallon compared to this same date last year.

“Across the Mid-Atlantic region, most areas have seen the drop in gas prices come to a halt,” said Tammy Arnette, Senior Public Affairs Specialist for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Refinery maintenance season will begin soon and the changeover to summer blend gasoline in the coming weeks will likely send prices higher.”

At the closing of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil was down 46 cents to settle at $53.40 per barrel. The Organization of the Exporting Petroleum Countries (OPEC) in January delivered record compliance of over 90 percent with its output curbs, according to estimates from the International Energy Agency and figures collected by OPEC’s headquarters.

Prices have remained relatively steady the past month as a result of the well-supplied crude oil market. Data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released Wednesday revealed a sixth straight weekly rise in U.S. crude inventories, lifting the total to an all-time high of 518.1 million barrels.  WTI prices have traded in a tight range between roughly $50 and $54 a barrel since the start of the year.

Oil prices took a turn higher earlier in the week, buoyed by a Reuters report that said OPEC could extend its production cut agreement by May with non-OPEC members, and may even apply deeper cuts if global inventories do not fall to a targeted level.  OPEC’s 90 percent compliance level by producers who had agreed to curtail their output is well above what many market participants were expecting.

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