AAA Mid-Atlantic reports that prices at the pumps are the highest they have been in the past year.
The national average price of gas this week reached a high of $3.70 per gallon, which was the most expensive price since March, 20, 2013. Gas prices have increased an average of 42 cents per gallon (13 percent) since early February with the national average up 76 out of 82 days.
“Drivers can’t seem to catch a break with gas prices rising nearly every day since February,” said Jenny M. Robinson, manager of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Spring is generally the worst time of year to fill up the car, and high gas prices are hard on people hoping to take advantage of the warmer weather.”
The national average increased about 14 cents per gallon in April, which was the largest increase for the month since 2011. Gas prices have increased primarily due to relatively tight supplies caused by significant refinery maintenance, the regulated switch to summer-blend gasoline and rising springtime demand.
Total gasoline stocks increased last week to 211.6 million barrels, according to today’s Energy Information Administration report.
Gas prices averaged $3.64 per gallon in April. In comparison, gas prices averaged $3.55 per gallon in April 2013, $3.89 per gallon in April 2012 and $3.79 per gallon in April 2011.
The national average price of gas is about 18 cents per gallon higher than a year ago, and has been more expensive for 22 consecutive days. Nevertheless, the national average remains less expensive than peak springtime prices from recent years including $3.79 in 2013, $3.94 in 2012 and $3.98 in 2011.
The price of domestic West Texas Intermediate crude oil has remained around $100 per barrel all month, despite historically high supplies of crude oil and growing domestic production.
Gas Prices Likely to Fall Before Onset of Busy Memorial Day Holiday
The national average price of gas likely is very near its peak for this spring, and AAA expects prices to remain less expensive than last year’s high of $3.79 per gallon. AAA predicts that gas prices should decline in advance of the summer driving season as the refinery maintenance season ends and gasoline production increases.
“It is possible that gas prices may rise somewhat higher in the coming days, but a little relief could be in sight,” continued Robinson. “With any luck most of us will pay lower gas prices by the time everyone hits the road for Memorial Day.”
Gasoline supplies nationally remain relatively low, yet prices should soon peak as refinery production increases in advance of the summer driving season. This increased production should outpace demand in May, lead to higher gasoline supplies and help reduce prices for most drivers. Unexpected developments, such as major refinery problems or international concerns, could result in higher than predicted prices.
Gas prices have decreased in May two out of the previous three years for an average decline of eight cents per gallon. The national average typically declines through early summer after reaching a peak in mid-spring.
Drivers in 49 States Paying Higher Gas Prices than a Month Ago
Today’s national average price of gas is $3.69 per gallon. Drivers in every state except Colorado are paying higher gas prices than a month ago.
The five states with the highest average prices today include: Hawaii ($4.38), California ($4.26), Connecticut ($3.95), New York ($3.92) and Alaska ($3.90). The five states with the lowest average prices include: Montana ($3.38), Missouri ($3.44), New Mexico ($3.46), Oklahoma ($3.46) and Arkansas ($3.47).
Approximately nine percent of U.S. stations are selling gas for more than $4.00 per gallon today, while 74 percent of stations are higher than $3.50 per gallon.
The most expensive metro area in the continental U.S. is San Luis Obispo-Atascadero-Paso Robles, Calif. at $4.36 per gallon. The least expensive metro area is Great Falls, Mont. at $3.28 per gallon.