Gas prices reach 2016 high

aaaThe national average price of gasoline increased slightly over the past week, and has reached a new high for 2016.

Today’s average price of $2.28 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline represents an increase of 16 cents per gallon on the month, though drivers continue to enjoy a substantial year-over-year discount of 46 cents per gallon.

In Virginia, the average gas price is at $2.11 a gallon, up five cents over the last week.

Gas prices are rising due to more expensive crude oil costs brought about by wildfires in Canada and supply disruptions in other oil-producing countries.

According to last week’s supply report from the Energy Information Administration, U.S. gasoline demand hit its highest mark of the year at 9.66 million barrels per day, which was the highest number since August and 4.4 percent higher than the same period last year. In response to this seasonal increase in demand, refineries nationwide are ramping up production, although some facilities, particularly in the Great Lakes region, have been impacted by the fires in Alberta, Canada.

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil was up $2.20 per barrel on the week to settle at $48.41. Global oil prices began the week pointed higher as market watchers continue to evaluate how recent supply disruptions may impact the glut of global crude oil. This includes the impact of wild fires in Canada and ongoing issues in the Middle East, North Africa, Nigeria and Venezuela.

“Gas prices peak in most years before Memorial Day, which means we could see them decline later this summer if normal trends apply,” said Martha Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “The big wild card is the cost of crude oil. If the price of crude oil continues to rise, we could see higher gas prices going into the summer months. However, if oil prices remain flat, most drivers should pay the cheapest summertime gas prices in more than a decade.”

AAA forecasts nearly 34 million (89 percent) holiday travelers will drive to their Memorial Day destinations, an increase of 2.1 percent over last year as a result of lower gas prices.  AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the lowest Memorial Day gas prices since 2005.  According to a recent AAA survey, 55 percent of Americans say they are more likely to take a road trip this year due to lower gas prices.

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