Gas prices seem to be holding steady and even dropping a penny or so on the week in many areas around the Mid-Atlantic region. This is a stark contrast to the last few weeks when drivers saw prices climb double digits since the first of the year. As of today, Virginia is down two cents on the week.
Gas prices may be dipping regionally as a result of rising inventories of gasoline along the East Coast territory and an increase in crude oil supplies, in addition to the drop in oil prices this week. Today’s national gas price average is $2.58, which is down two cents in the last week, up seven cents in the last month and 30 cents higher than this time last year.
“Drivers may finally start to see what they’ve been waiting for since January – a drop in pump prices,” said Tammy Arnette, Senior Public Affairs Specialist for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Albeit slight and potentially short-lived, the recent halt in gas price increases is a welcome break for motorists before refinery maintenance season comes into play, which typically increases prices at the pump.”
At the close of NYMEX trading Friday, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil settled at $59.20 per barrel, down $6.25 or nearly ten percent from the previous week. Oil started the week above $64, but ended the week at the lowest settlement since December 22. Domestic oil production rose to an all-time high of 10.25 million barrels per day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), which is above that of top exporter Saudi Arabia and within reach of Russia’s output levels. The week also saw an increase in oil inventories, the first increase in U.S. oil inventories this year.
Strong demand coupled with steadily rising oil prices means filling up will continue to cost consumers more this month. In fact, the last time the national gas price average was this high, but under $3/gallon in February was in 2010.