Gas Prices: AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report | March 17, 2014
(WASHINGTON, March 17, 2014) Today’s national average price at the pump is $3.52 per gallon, which is the highest price in more than six months. This price is three cents more expensive than one week ago and 18 cents above one month ago, but national prices still average 17 cents per gallon less than the same date last year. The average pump price has increased on 37 of the past 38 days and jumped by a quarter (13 percent) during this span.
AAA expects the national average will peak in late March or early April between $3.55 and $3.75 per gallon, due to seasonal refinery maintenance and the approaching switchover to producing summer-blend gasoline that is required by May 1. In 2011 the national average peaked at $3.98 per gallon on May 5. In 2012 the national average peaked at $3.94 per gallon on April 5. In 2013 prices peaked at $3.79 on February 27, which was the earliest peak on record.
Prices in nearly every state have moved higher over the last week, led by a nine-cent increase in Washington D.C. Prices in ten states have jumped by at least a nickel over the last seven days, including increases of nine cents in two states on opposite sides of the country: Florida and Oregon. Gas prices on both coasts, but the east coast in particular, have been subject to upward pressure from limited ethanol supplies due to logistical challenges, which have resulted in wholesale ethanol prices of $3.50 per gallon in many markets. More than 90 percent of the gasoline sold in the U.S. is “E10,” which contains up to ten percent ethanol, and ethanol is regularly used as an additive to improve the octane rating of sub-octane gasoline for sale to motorists.
Despite the recent increase, prices in every state in the continental U.S. remain below the $4 per gallon threshold. As is often the case, many of the ten highest state averages are in California ($3.96), the Northeast (New York: $3.77; Connecticut: $3.77; and Maine: $3.64) and the Great Lakes states (Illinois: $3.74; Michigan: $3.73; Indiana: $3.68; and Ohio: $3.65). Motorists in Hawaii continue to pay the most to fill their tanks with a state average of $4.18 per gallon.
Easing (but still present) worries surrounding geopolitical tensions with Russia, worse than expected economic data out of China, an announced test sale of 5 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and a larger than anticipated increase of domestic crude oil supplies resulted in West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices settling below $100 per barrel last Wednesday for the first time in more than a month. Prices have remained below this threshold including their settlement 81 cents lower today at $98.08 per barrel.