The national average price for a gallon of gasoline on the last day of March is $3.555, its highest daily average since September. The average price for March is 17 cents a gallon more than the February average. The average price has risen on 49 of the past 52 days, adding 29 cents to the cost of a gallon of gasoline.
As bad as all that might sound, it’s actually an improvement. In March of 2013 the average price of a gallon of gas was $3.695 and in March of 2012 a gallon of gas cost $3.829. This year’s average for March came in at $3.507 a gallon.
According to AAA, gasoline is relatively less expensive this year because many refineries have increased capacity to take advantage of North American crude oil production. Demand was also relatively weak during the winter to to the heavy snow and frigid temperatures.
AAA has forecast a national average price for April in a range of $3.55 to $3.75 a gallon, which would remain below last year’s peak of $3.79 a gallon which was reached in February. Prices could rise over the next few weeks as people begin driving more in the warmer weather and refinery production remains throttled by annual maintenance and a switch to summer-blend fuel. Refineries should be finished with their work by the end of April which should help build inventories ahead of the summer driving season that officially kicks off at the end of May.
The states with the highest gasoline prices are Hawaii ($4.24), California ($4.00), Alaska ($3.82), New York, and Connecticut ($3.77 in both). The states where gas is cheapest are Montana and South Carolina at $3.28, Louisiana ($3.31), Mississippi ($3.32), and Arkansas ($3.34). Only two states — Ohio and Pennsylvania — are paying less than they were a month ago.