AAA Monthly Gas Price Report: January 2013 Trends and February Outlook
WASHINGTON, January 31, 2013
U.S. Motorists Pay Second Highest Gas Prices on Record for January
- The national average price of gasoline in January was $3.32 per gallon, which was the second highest average on record for the month. This also represents the first monthly average below year-ago levels in six months. The highest recorded prices in January were in 2012, when the monthly average was $3.37 per gallon.
- “Gas prices in January historically are among the least expensive of the year because of lower demand and the use of winter-blend gasoline,” said Avery Ash, AAA spokesman. “While few of us would claim that gas prices are cheap, at least most motorists paid a little less compared to last year.”
- The national average price of gasoline increased 13 cents (4 percent) a gallon in January, which was the first monthly increase since August. Gas prices nationally have increased 14 days in a row for a total of 22 days during the month. Gas prices increased at a slower pace than in January 2012, when the national average increased 17 cents (5 percent) a gallon.
- The lowest state averages for January were in the Rockies, where relatively cheap crude oil, a glut of local gasoline supplies and limited pipeline capacity out of the region helped keep prices low. The average monthly price of gasoline in Wyo. ($2.87), Colo. ($2.91) and Utah ($2.92) were the first state monthly averages under $3 per gallon since January 2012.
- Drivers in the Northeast continue paying among the highest prices in the continental U.S. because local production and supplies still have not recovered from Hurricane Sandy. Higher than average state gasoline taxes also contribute to higher prices in the region. Motorists in N.Y. paid an average of $3.74 per gallon for the month, while the average in Conn. was $3.69 per gallon.
- Drivers in the Midwest saw the highest price increases for January as a result of rising crude oil costs in the region and decreased gasoline supplies. States with the highest monthly price increases included Minn. (33¢), Ind. (24¢), Mich. (23¢) and Ill. (23¢).
AAA Expects Gas Prices to Rise in February Due to Refinery Actions
- AAA expects the national average to increase in February due to seasonal refinery actions, but at a slower pace than in the previous two years when the average climbed by 29 cents per gallon (2012) and 27 cents per gallon (2011). Despite the expected slower overall pace, it is likely the national average will rise temporarily above year-ago levels in the coming days.
- “Gas prices are expected to rise steadily as many refineries temporarily close for scheduled turnaround maintenance and as the industry begins the complicated process of switching over to summer blends of gasoline,” continued Ash. “Various summer-gasoline blends are required in many regions to meet local air quality standards, but the fuels cost more to produce and the changeover process can disrupt supplies in the spring.”
- Gas prices in February increased at a quick pace over the past couple of years due to higher oil costs caused primarily by civil war in Libya (2011) and geopolitical tensions with Iran (2012). While gas prices this February are expected to increase at a slower rate, major events such as an unexpected refinery outage, increased unrest in North Africa or changes in the global economy could affect this month’s forecast. The national average in February has increased nine out of the previous ten years.
- The national average should rise steadily through April or May as the switch to summer-blend gasoline continues and with an increase in demand this spring. AAA expects gas prices this spring will peak at a lower national average than last year’s high of $3.94 per gallon, which occurred on April 5 and 6.
- Gasoline prices in the Northeast will remain among the highest in the country following the planned closure in February of Hess’ Port Reading, N.J. refinery, which accounts for 7.5 percent of Northeast gasoline production. The closure of this refinery further reduces production in the region, which means that a larger percentage of gasoline in the heavily populated Northeast will be supplied by Gulf Coast, Midwest and overseas refineries. The reduction in refinery production places Northeastern motorists at increased risk of price spikes this year if refinery or pipeline disruptions strike the region.
Today’s Gas Prices
- Today’s national gas price average is $3.423 a gallon, which is 2.9 cents more than yesterday and 10.2 cents more than a week ago. Today’s national average is the highest price since Nov. 25, 2012.
- Motorists nationally are paying an average of 2.7 cents per gallon less on gas than last year. This is the 27th day in a row that gas prices have been less expensive than last year.
- The five states with the highest averages today include: Hawaii ($4.11), N.Y. ($3.78), Calif. ($3.76), Conn. ($3.75) and Alaska ($3.69). The five states with the lowest averages today include: Wyo. ($2.90), Mont. ($3.01), Colo. ($3.07), Utah ($3.09) and N.M. ($3.11).
AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report is updated daily at www.FuelGaugeReport.AAA.com with average national, state and local retail prices for gasoline, diesel and E-85. Every day up to 120,000 stations are surveyed based on credit card swipes and direct feeds in cooperation with the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) and Wright Express for unmatched statistical reliability. All average retail prices in this report are for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline. For more information, contact Michael Green at 202-942-2082, firstname.lastname@example.org.