AAA: Gas prices inch up, crude oil at 2015 high

AAA LogoThe national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has inched up in recent days, as global crude oil prices rebounded to a new 2015 high.  Friday’s average price of $2.43 per gallon is three cents higher than one week ago and a penny higher than one month ago.  Consumers are saving $1.23 per gallon compared to this same date last year and motorists continue to pay significantly lower prices at the pump in comparison to previous years: April 13, 2011 ($3.81); April 13, 2012 ($3.90), April 13, 2013 ($3.54). National pump prices have fallen for 22 of the past 30 days.

Following several weeks of downward pressure, U.S. crude oil has reversed course, rising for six straight days (through Apr. 16) due to geopolitical tensions in Yemen, a sharply lower dollar and signs that U.S. domestic output is peaking.  West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude settled at its highest point this year and at a level last seen back on December 23Thursday at $56.71 per barrel.  At the close of Friday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, crude oil settled at $55.74 per barrel, down from a 2015 high, yet up eight percent on the week.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) noted in its weekly report that crude oil inventories saw a lighter-than-expected build of 1.3 million barrels to 483.7 million barrels, marking the 14th consecutive week of builds.  Gasoline stocks dipped 2.1 million barrels to 227.9 million barrels.  Gasoline demand bounced back last week to 8.914 million barrels per day (bpd), an increase of 304,000 bpd.  The weekly measurement for gasoline demand as rendered by the EIA represents the highest for the same week since 2011.

“Crude prices hit a 2015 high this week, which caused slight increases at the pump,” said Martha M. Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “Given the elevated commodity price, switchover to summer-blend gasoline and AAA expectations for a robust summer driving season, this upward price trend could continue in the short term.  However, the more realistic view is that in time prices will continue to wander lower as they’ve done for the last five weeks.”

Despite falling for the majority of the previous month, retail averages maintain the potential to inch upward in the short-term as we approach the summer driving season.  The price at the pump remains heavily influenced by the global price of crude and the ability of domestic refineries to manage scheduled and unscheduled maintenance. Any market moving developments in the aforementioned items will cause the price at the pump to fluctuate; however, it is estimated that even with prices reflecting seasonality, consumers are expected see prices move lower leading up to the peak driving season this summer.



Regular Unleaded Gasoline (*indicates record high)


4/19/15Week Ago


Year Ago


Norfolk Area$2.23$2.17$3.52
Crude Oil$55.74

per barrel

(Friday 4/17/2015 close)


per barrel

(Friday 4/10/15 close)


per barrel


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