Average Gas Prices Climb 15 Cents in Two Weeks

Michael Green Contact Tile(WASHINGTON, April 27, 2015) The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline climbed above $2.50 per gallon late last week for the first time in more than four months. Average prices have now increased by 15 cents per gallon in just two weeks. This recent increase has been the product of rising global crude prices, the seasonal switch to summer-blend gasoline and regional refinery issues, particularly on the West Coast. Motorists are currently paying an average $2.54 per gallon, representing an increase of eight cents versus one week ago, and 11 cents versus one month ago. Despite inching higher for 12 consecutive days, the national average continues to reflect a significant discount of $1.16 per gallon in comparison to this same date last year.

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The deadline for terminals to switchover to summer-grade gasoline is May 1. In parts of California these changes are required earlier and are in effect for longer. Select markets that require reformulated gasoline or experience localized refinery issues may see prices move more dramatically in the spring. Following the transition to summer-blend gasoline and as refineries complete seasonal maintenance, the national average may return to below $2.50 per gallon, though much of the forecast will depend on what happens with the cost of crude oil.

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Drivers on the West Coast are paying some of the nation’s highest averages for retail gasoline due to localized refinery issues, particularly in California, which have put upward pressure on prices throughout the region. California ($3.40), Hawaii ($3.10) and Alaska ($3.03), lead the nation and are the only three states posting averages above $3.00 per gallon. The average price at the pump in the Golden State is a bit of an outlier, up 30 cents above second place Hawaii, and prices are expected to remain elevated in the short term as the state works through its production issues. On the other end of the spectrum, consumers in the Southern states of South Carolina ($2.27), Missouri ($2.30) and Oklahoma ($2.30) are paying nation’s lowest prices for retail gasoline.

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Weekly price comparisons show that consumers in every state and Washington, D.C. are paying more at the pump. Thirty-five states are posting a premium of a nickel or more per gallon, and California remains an outlier where the price is up by a quarter per gallon. The Golden State is joined by three other states where the price has climbed by a dime or more week-over-week: Nevada (+14 cents), Arizona (+13 cents) and Connecticut (+10 cents).

The average price for retail gasoline has moved higher in 47 states and Washington, D.C. month-over-month. Motorists in a total of 27 states have seen the price at the pump move higher by a dime or more over this same period, led by the Northeastern states of New Jersey (+25 cents), Delaware (+22 cents) and Connecticut (+22 cents). Illinois (-6 cents), Hawaii (-4 cents) and Wisconsin (-4 cents) are outside of this trend, and the only three states registering monthly savings.

In comparison to this same date last year, retail averages remain discounted nationwide and the price is down by $1.00 or more in 44 states and Washington, D.C. Drivers in eight states and Washington, D.C. are saving $1.25 or more at the pump, with the largest savings occurring in the Midwestern states of Michigan (-$1.32), Indiana (-$1.31) and Illinois (-$1.29).

Global crude oil prices rose again last week due to geopolitical tensions in Yemen and the declining strength of the U.S. dollar. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil finished at its highest price in approximately four months and Brent Crude also posted weekly gains.

At the close of Friday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI settled down 59 cents at $57.15 per barrel.

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