AAA: Gas prices inching up amid rising demand
While nearly 25 states’ averages increased on the week, the national average is only a penny more than a week ago at $2.26. The fluctuating national and state gas price averages come alongside an increase in gasoline demand and reflect the higher crude oil prices as of late, but it’s likely not to be a long-term trend.
“With gasoline stocks sitting at their highest level on record – 259.1 million bbl coupled with colder-than-normal weather forecasted for much of the Midwest and East Coast, motorists are likely to see demand drop and gas prices decrease or hold steady this week,” said Tammy Arnette, Senior Public Affairs Specialist for AAA.
Today’s national gas price average is three cents cheaper than a month ago and 33 cents less expensive than a year ago. “Despite some areas of the Commonwealth experiencing gas price hikes, Virginia is 13th lowest in the country to buy gasoline,” added Arnette.
At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased 56 cents to settle at $53.69. Overall, crude prices fell slightly last week after new EIA data showed that domestic crude oil inventories grew by an astonishing 8 million bbl last week. At 445 million bbl, the current crude inventory level is approximately 33 million bbl higher than last year at this time.
Moving into this week, increased political turmoil in Venezuela, which has seen reduced crude production during its prolonged political upheaval and economic decline, could elevate crude prices. As a result of the political crisis, the U.S. signaled that it may impose sanctions on crude exports from the country after the Trump Administration decided to recognize Venezuela’s opposition leader as interim president. Implementing crude sanctions could exert global pressure that pushes the sitting president out of office, while tightening the global supply of crude and raising crude prices.
In related news, Baker Hughes Inc. reported that the U.S. added 10 oil rigs, bringing the total to 862. When compared to last year at this time, there are 103 more rigs this year.