AAA: National average gas prices below $1.75 a gallon
The national average is $1.70 per gallon, and Virginia is boasting $1.57 a gallon regular unleaded as of this morning, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.
At the close of Friday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI was down $1.45 on the week and settled at $29.44 per barrel. Crude oil stumbled Thursday to near their cheapest prices since 2003 ($26.15/barrel), hit by persistent supply glut and as Wall Street plunged on economic uncertainties.
Slower-than-expected growth in China, a strengthening U.S. dollar, and ongoing speculation about what, if any, deals the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) may attempt to broker on production are all weighing on the global oil market.
“Unlike previous years, both gasoline and crude oil supplies are at record levels,” said Martha Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “The convergence of these factors may point to a possible shift in the status quo, holding prices at the pumps steady for the near term, as long as crude oil prices remain relatively low and absent any major disruptions in supply or production.”
Domestic gasoline and crude oil supply are at record levels. The year’s refinery maintenance ramp up is expected to reduce gasoline inventories, which could help bring a bit of balance to the gasoline market; however, this will likely not have the same impact on crude oil.
The U.S. Energy Department Energy Information Administration’s Short Term Energy Outlook forecasts the U.S. retail regular gasoline price to average $1.98/gallon in 2016 (the first time since 2004 the annual average is projected to be below $2.00/gallon) and $2.21/gallon in 2017, compared with $2.43/gallon in 2015.
CURRENT AND PAST GAS PRICE AVERAGES
Regular Unleaded Gasoline (*indicates record high)