Gas Prices Expected to Rise in Next Several Weeks

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The price of gasoline on Monday morning was up nearly three cents a gallon compared with last week’s national average pump price for regular. Compared with the same day last year, the national average price of $2.314 is 49.2 cents a gallon higher.

Refinery maintenance and the switch to summer-grade fuel are driving the price increases, with the effects lasting for another four to six weeks.

Analysts at GasBuddy noted that historically a gallon of regular gas in the United States rises by an average of 59 cents a gallon between mid-February and Memorial Day.

Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy, said:

Despite oil prices that remain range-bound in the low to mid-$50’s per barrel, refinery status and the likely draw in inventories will win this week’s tug of war at the pump, keeping upward pressure on gasoline prices. In addition, unexpected refinery outages could cause additional volatility or spikes in prices over the next two months due to the limited ability of other refiners to help offset any production losses while performing their planned maintenance.

Gas prices rose in 38 states over the past week but declined in 12. The five states seeing the largest increases were Michigan (12 cents a gallon), Indiana (10 cents), Ohio (nine cents), Illinois (eight cents) and Kentucky (six cents). Price decreases were much smaller: two cents per gallon in New Jersey, Maine, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, and down a penny in Hawaii.

No state showed an average of below $2.00 a gallon Monday morning. The five states with the lowest prices are South Carolina ($2.042 a gallon), Tennessee ($2.062), Alabama ($2.064), Mississippi ($2.075) and Oklahoma ($2.086). States posting the highest prices are Hawaii ($3.030 a gallon), California ($2.994), Washington ($2.781), Alaska ($2.689) and Nevada ($2.610).

GasBuddy also noted the effect crude oil production cuts are having on retail prices:

Oil prices begin the week fading slightly, but remaining in the low $50’s, territory common for the last three months as pressure mounts on both sides. OPEC’s oil production cuts spurred oil prices to jump, but headwinds in the form of rising U.S. oil production keep prices tempered, for now. Demand — mainly gasoline — has remained consistently weak in 2017, leading to a concern of an economic slowdown or a replay of 2008 when weak gasoline demand pre-empted the Great Recession.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil for April delivery traded down about 0.3% Monday morning to $53.20 a barrel, after reaching a peak of $53.56 earlier. The contract closed at $53.33 on Friday.