AAA: Gas prices inch up toward end of summer season

gas pricesThe summer driving season is in its final stretch, and regional gas prices are rising slightly, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Drivers continue to benefit however as most areas are nearly 30 to 40 cents less than last year, which means more pocket change for those planning summer road trips in the coming weeks.

The average price for regular unleaded in Virginia today is $1.94 a gallon, three cents more than last week, and 38 cents down from a year ago.

“Although gas prices are rising slightly, current market factors are paving the way for the possibility of the lowest pump prices in more than a decade to persist through Labor Day,” said Tammy Arnette, Public Affairs Specialist for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

“However, a major market-moving event, like a hurricane or increasing crude oil costs, is not out of the question and could temporarily drive pump prices higher.”

Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will meet in Algeria at the end of September but the prospects of an agreement on a production freeze are doubtful. While West Texas Intermediate crude oil is still trading substantially lower than recent years, prices have increased in August and are now trading at the highest level in a month.

If OPEC members agree to limit production, rising crude oil prices could offset or even reverse expected downward pressure on U.S. pump prices from tapering demand and cheaper seasonal blends.

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI closed up $4.03 from last week to settle at $48.52 per barrel, closing above the $45 mark every day this week. A key contributing factor to the stalling slide in retail gas prices has been the increase in crude oil prices over the past several weeks.

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