Gas Prices: AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report | January 28, 2013

(WASHINGTON, January 28, 2013) Today’s national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.35. This price is four cents more expensive than one week ago and six cents more than one month ago, but it remains seven cents cheaper than the average price one year ago. The retail price of gasoline has now increased for 11 consecutive days, the longest such streak since prices rose for 21 straight days July 28-August 18.

While the national average has drifted higher, it has increased by fewer than six cents through the first 28 days of 2013. This rise is less than half of the nearly 14-cent increase during the same period last year. Pump prices rose to begin 2012 because of higher global oil prices due to geopolitical tensions with Iran. This year, while markets have kept an eye on recent episodes of violence in Algeria, prices have risen largely because of higher oil prices from positive economic news and recent regional refinery issues. This has included the ExxonMobil and Phillips 66 refineries in Illinois; HollyFrontier in New Mexico; Western Refining in El Paso, TX; Chevron in El Segundo, CA; and Cherry Point in Washington State. Additionally, Hess announced today that it will permanently close its Port Reading, NJ refinery by the end of February due to poor refining margins. The refinery has a capacity of 70,000 barrels per day, which accounts for 7.5 percent of Northeast production. The closure is likely to further squeeze already tight gasoline supplies in the Northeast and will require additional product to be brought to the region from the Gulf Coast and overseas.

Over the last week average gasoline prices have increased in every state with exception of Montana (and Washington, D.C.). Retail prices in the Central U.S. have increased most dramatically, as the price of crude products used by refiners supplying these regions have risen. Prices in nine states, all landlocked, have posted week-over-week increases of a dime or more: Ill. – 10 cents, Idaho – 11 cents, N.D. – 11 cents, Colo. – 13 cents, Utah – 14 cents, Okla. – 15 cents, Iowa – 15 cents, Minn. – 15 cents, and Neb. – 17 cents.

At today’s close of formal trading on the NYMEX, the price of WTI – the traditional U.S. benchmark product – settled up 56 cents at $96.44 per barrel. This is the highest settlement price since September 17.

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