Gas Prices: AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report | June 17, 2013

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, June 17, 2013) Today’s national average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $3.61 per gallon. This is two cents less expensive than one week ago and three cents less than one month ago, but it is ten cents more than the same date last year.

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The focus to begin last week was on the national average moving higher as a result of of sharp increases in retail prices for a handful of Great Lakes states. The near record high prices in these states were because of continued low supplies and transportation challenges for wholesale gasoline in the Chicago market, particularly due to maintenance at the ExxonMobil refinery in Joliet, Ill. and the BP refinery in Whiting, Ind. As noted in last Monday’s AAA Fuel Gauge Report, confirmation that the Joliet refinery was back online and talk throughout the week that the Whiting refinery would soon return to normal production levels meant imminent price relief for these states was likely.

This prediction held true as these same states have seen prices more than reverse course over the last week. Motorists in 26 states are paying more than one week ago, but none of these increases has been more than six cents. This compares to ten states where prices have fallen at least six cents during the same period, led by declines of fifteen cents or more in four Great Lakes states: Wisc. (-15 cents), Ohio (-18 cents), Ind. (-23 cents) and Mich. (-27 cents).

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National gasoline markets in recent months have been driven by regional supply and production issues rather than by the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil, which has traded in a narrow $5 range. At the same time regional gasoline production and distribution concerns have eased and retail prices have inched lower, market-watchers have turned a wary eye to escalating geopolitical tensions in Syria. While Syria is not a major oil producing nation, there is the risk that fighting might spread to other countries in the region, and this has kept some upward pressure on crude oil prices. At the close of formal trading on the NYMEX last Friday, these tensions drove WTI to settle at $97.85 per barrel which was the highest mark since January. At the close of today’s formal trading, WTI settled down 8 cents at $97.77 per barrel.

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