Crude Oil Prices Continue to Soar as Libyan Unrest Persists

TRENTON, NJ - Gas prices continued their upward trend this week, recording the second-largest one-week price increase.  The national average price of regular grade gasoline reached $3.47 Friday, up 18 cents (or 5 percent) in one week, 31 cents in two weeks, 36 cents in one month and 76 cents since year-ago prices – and merely 64 cents shy of the all-time high of $4.11 a gallon set in July 2008.  The only larger one-week increase on record was in September 2005 when prices spiked more than 48 cents following Hurricane Katrina.

Crude oil prices broke through the $100 a barrel benchmark this week to settle at $102.23 a barrel Wednesday, marking the first time crude has settled above $100 benchmark since September 30, 2008.  While continued unrest and production stoppages in Libya continue to drive crude oil prices higher, the market has also been driven by investor fears that the unrest and disruptions will spread to oil heavyweights like Iran and Saudi Arabia, creating a massive supply crunch.  Healthy U.S. unemployment data reported by the Labor Department Friday, while strong and indicative of economic growth and recovery, paled in comparison to the international events affecting crude oil.  Crude oil settled at $104.92 Friday.

In its weekly report, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced crude stocks dropped 364,000 barrels to 346.4 million barrels.  Gasoline stocks fell by 3.59 million barrels to 234.7 million barrels.

 

The Weekend

“Motorists are certainly feeling the pinch at the pump this week, with double-digit price increases in gas prices and no sign of any retreat anytime soon,” said Tracy E. Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “The national average gas price jumped 18 cents this week and 31 cents over the past two weeks, driven by soaring crude oil prices in response to continued unrest in North Africa and the Middle East, as well as speculation that such uprisings will spread to other oil heavyweights in the region.  Prices at the pump are in a state of flux right now, surpassing the $3.50 a gallon benchmark this weekend and heading higher as crude oil prices continue to climb.”

The Week Ahead

Continued uncertainty in the oil-rich regions of North Africa and the Middle East will likely drive crude oil and gas price higher in the week ahead.  The national average price of regular grade gasoline is expected to reach $3.50 a gallon by the beginning of the week and analysts believe prices will reach $3.75 a gallon by April.

 

CURRENT AND PAST GAS PRICE AVERAGES

Regular Unleaded Gasoline (*indicates record high)

 

 

03/04/2011

Week Ago

Year Ago

National

$3.47

$3.29

$2.71

New Jersey

$3.30

$3.14

$2.57

Trenton

$3.34

$3.16

$2.58

Cape May County

$3.27

$3.10

$2.55

Burlington County

$3.28

$3.11

$2.56

Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon

$3.31

$3.15

$2.57

Monmouth, Ocean Counties

$3.29

$3.13

$3.55

Crude Oil

$104.92 per barrel (close on Friday)

$98.22 per barrel

$74.00 per barrel

 

AAA is the most comprehensive resource for gas prices.

To find prices at individual gas stations, go to AAA Fuel Finder:

http://www.aaamidatlantic.com/Outreach/GasInfo