The national average price of a gallon of gasoline has risen every day for the past 21 days, according to AAA. In the month of February, gasoline prices rose $0.17 a gallon to end the month at $3.45. For the full month, a gallon of gas averaged $3.34, the lowest monthly average since 2011.
The 5% price rise in February reflects the largest one-month increase since last July. AAA expects the price to peak between $3.55 and $3.75 a gallon in March or early April while refiners cut production as they switch to making more expensive summer-grade fuel. Last year’s peak price was $3.79 a gallon, and AAA does not expect gasoline to reach that level this year.
Gasoline prices peaked early last year, which AAA attributes to an earlier start to refinery maintenance. A contributing factor was the unexpected closure of Hess Corp.’s (NYSE: HES) New Jersey refinery in late January, which sent oil traders scurrying to find an alternate source of supply, bidding up prices in the process. Gasoline prices fell by $0.15 a gallon in March last year and fell further in April.
The five states where residents are paying the most for a gallon of gas are Hawaii ($4.08), California ($3.84), Alaska ($3.77), Connecticut ($3.75) and New York ($3.74).
The five states with the lowest prices per gallon are South Carolina ($3.17), Montana ($3.18), Alabama ($3.21), Mississippi ($3.22) and Tennessee ($3.22). According to AAA, less than 1% of all gasoline stations in the United States now are selling gasoline for less than $3.00 a gallon, compared with more than 25% selling sub-$3.00 a gallon gas in November.