AAA: Gas prices trending downward

Gas prices in the Mid-Atlantic region continue to drop slowly but will not drop as quickly as they rose following Hurricane Harvey’s landfall last month. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, refineries were shut down and gasoline supplies were drained, serving drivers with a one-two punch at the pump.

gas pricesGulf Coast refineries are slowly coming back online and operating at reduced rates but it will likely be a few more weeks before those regions are back to normal operations.

Typically, the drop in demand at the end of the summer driving season brings a drop in fuel prices in September. The switch over to a winter-blend of gasoline (Sept. 15) has also added to the decrease in prices. Today’s national average is $2.58, a drop of five cents in the last week and the cheapest price in 16 days, yet 23 cents higher than one month ago and 37 cents higher than one year ago.

At the close of NYMEX trading Friday, WTI crude oil settled at $50.66 per barrel, 77 cents higher than the previous week’s closing price. Oil prices have not spiked like gasoline prices have, following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Shale oil production in the United States is reaching record highs, putting a damper on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) attempts to reduce the glut of oil in world markets. As refineries shut by storm damage work to reach pre-storm capacity levels, oil inventories may decline in the coming weeks as refineries turn to storage tanks to meet demand needs.

“Mid-Atlantic drivers will be paying less to fill up in the coming days and weeks as the situation with refineries, pipelines and gasoline deliveries improves,” said Tammy Arnette, Senior Public Affairs Specialist for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Consumers may not be impressed with the speed at which prices are dropping but they should feel confident that they will see lower prices moving into the fall.”   

As the Gulf Coast and Florida slowly recover from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, many Americans are turning their attention to Hurricane Maria. Long-range weather models show Hurricane Maria heading northward over the western Atlantic next week, with little to no threat to the U.S. East Coast. Hurricane season ends November 30.

Members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies will meet in Vienna on September 28 to reportedly consider further extending output cuts in an attempt to reduce a glut in oil supplies. Some analysts don’t expect a final decision until OPEC’s next official gathering in November.

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