Gas prices increase as Hurricane Matthew impacts U.S.

gas pricesGas prices have climbed higher across much of Virginia in the past few days, in contrast to the slight dip they took last week.

The increase follows the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decision to reduce production of oil output, which has caused a minor increase in oil prices. Prices may continue to rise due to the possible delay in oil supply delivery following Hurricane Matthew’s path through the Atlantic.

Today’s national average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $2.26 per gallon, four cents more than one week ago and eight cents more than one month ago. Despite the slight rise in pump prices, drivers continue to experience year-over-year savings with today’s average price about six cents per gallon less than the same date last year.

“There are a few factors in play this week when it comes to the status of gas prices,” says Tammy Arnette, Public Affairs Specialist for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Between the reaction to the OPEC agreement, the slight rise in crude oil prices and the possible impact Hurricane Matthew may have on oil deliveries to the U.S., drivers may not see the dip in gas prices originally predicted for the fall.”

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) closed up $1.57 from last week to settle at $49.81 per barrel on Friday. Crude oil closed above $48 per barrel every day this week and was trading, at times, above $50 per barrel. OPEC’s announcement that it had agreed to limit its oil production included few details on how the production freeze will be implemented. Members of OPEC will meet again on November 30 as analysts continue to watch for additional announcements. Hurricane Matthew could affect distribution of oil imports to the U.S. as oil tankers are rerouted to avoid the storm, causing delivery delays of days or weeks.

Hurricane Matthew’s immediate effect on fuel markets is expected to be limited, but gas prices could be up and down in the coming weeks as the storm causes supply and demand hiccups in the Southeast. Industry analysts believe the demand for gas should fall in the days following the storm which could offset the higher gas prices drivers have been seeing.

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