Gas Prices: AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report | February 24, 2014
(WASHINGTON, February 24, 2014) Today’s national average price at the pump is $3.42 per gallon. This price is six cents more expensive than one week ago and 13 cents more than one month ago; however national prices remain 36 cents per gallon less than the same date last year. Despite an average that has moved higher for 17 straight days – the longest streak since May of last year – and the largest one-month increase registered since August, the national average still reflects a substantial year-over-year discount and today’s price is the lowest for this date since 2011.
National pump prices have started to exhibit the seasonal increase motorists are familiar with to begin the calendar year. While geopolitical tensions or domestic refinery issues exacerbated this run up each of the last three years, the absence of such catalysts has resulted in a less dramatic increase thus far in 2014. Cold weather and limited demand across the country has helped to keep a lid on prices for motorists, even with crude oil prices near a multi-month high. In 2011 pump prices surged 29 cents per gallon through the end of February. In 2012 the national average spiked 45 cents higher through the first two months of the year. In 2013 prices were up 49 cents during the same span. With four days left in February, the national average has increased just nine cents to begin 2014.
The rising national average is mirrored at the state level, where pump prices are universally moving higher. Only drivers in Washington, D.C. are paying less to fill their cars than a week, two-weeks or month ago. In a number of interior states, the increase has been dramatic.
Motorists in 14 states have seen prices jump by at least 15 cents per gallon over the past 14 days. Coloradans are experiencing the most severe sticker shock as prices today are more than a quarter higher than two weeks ago, due to many of the same factors at the regional level that have pressured prices higher across the country: refinery maintenance and the approaching switch to summer-blend fuel. On January 1 pump prices in Colorado were 14 cents per gallon below the national average and today they are five cents higher. However, even given this recent surge, prices in Colorado still average 12 cents less than a year ago. The state’s average has historically trended slightly below the national price at the pump, although in recent years motorists have seen this gap widen early in the year before returning in line with the national average. In 2012 Colorado prices averaged 38 cents less than the national price during the first quarter (Q1) before recording a nine-cent premium in Q2. In 2013 the state average was 26 cents lower in Q1 than the national average, compared to eight cents higher in Q2.
The only state where prices today are higher than this date last year is Wyoming (two cents higher) and drivers in 16 states are paying at least 40 cents less per gallon.
From October 21 through February 7 West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices spent just one day above $100 per barrel and traded as low as $91.80 on January 13. At the close of today’s formal trading on the NYMEX WTI settled up 62 cents at $102.82 per barrel, which begins the third consecutive week above the $100 threshold. As noted above, cold weather and limited demand have kept a lid on gasoline prices; however as the weather warms and refineries begin the switchover to produce more expensive summer-blend gasoline, pump prices are likely to continue higher, especially if crude oil prices remain elevated.