Motorists may be wishing for summer weather, but not summer gas prices

The Week
Mid-Atlantic motorists have been shoveling snow, scraping ice and shivering in the cold this winter but they’ve also been applauding prices at the pump. Prices in the region continue to decline but the party may be coming to an end sooner than many would like. The national average price of gas increased this week for the first time in nearly three weeks, but average prices are still at levels not seen since January 2009. Today’s national average price of $1.70 represents a savings of three cents per gallon on the week, 20 cents per gallon on the month and 55 cents per gallon compared to this same date last year. 

CURRENT AND PAST GAS PRICE AVERAGES

Regular Unleaded Gasoline (*indicates record high)

 
2/19/16
Week Ago
Year Ago
National
$1.72 $1.70
$2.27
New Jersey
$1.59
$1.62
$2.11
Trenton
$1.64
$1.65
$2.12
Cape May County
$1.57
$1.60
$2.10
Burlington
$1.53
$1.55
$2.08
Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon Counties
$1.62
$1.65
$2.11
Monmouth, Ocean Counties
$1.60
$1.63
$2.11
Crude Oil

$29.86 per barrel

$29.44 per barrel
$51.16 per barrel

At the close of Friday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI settled at $29.86 per barrel. Speculation about future supply and demand is contributing to swings in the global price of crude oil. Despite the lower price environment, there has not yet been a major reduction in U.S. oil production. 

The Weekend
“The process to bring summer-blend gasoline to market (mandated by the EPA by May 1), in addition to annual refinery maintenance, is beginning to put a damper on the pump price slide throughout the Mid-Atlantic region,” said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “Both of these factors will cause prices to be higher than they are now by Memorial Day.”

The Week Ahead
AAA believes prices are likely to be a good deal higher by Memorial Day than they are today.  Production is beginning to drop as many refineries prepare for seasonal maintenance in advance of the summer driving season. In addition, some refineries reportedly have cut production because of abundant supplies and low prices. Industry analysts expect pump prices to rise in the coming months due to fluctuations in supply and demand associated with the maintenance process. However, unlike previous years, gasoline inventories are reportedly at higher-than-normal levels and the price of crude oil remains low.