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AAA Predicts Spring Gas Price Spike Won’t Match those of Recent Years

National-Average-Gas-Price-first-half-2011-2013


Staff Report


On Tuesday, March 12, the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.70. This price was 12 cents more than the previous month, but it was four cents less expensive than the previous week and ten cents less than the average price one year ago. The average price U.S. motorists pay at the pump declined for 12 straight days up until March 12, when it rose by four-tenths of a cent from March 11.


Even if prices continue to increase, AAA still is predicting that the national average will likely crest lower and earlier than in recent years. In 2011, the national average for regular gasoline peaked at $3.98 on May 5. In 2012, the price peaked at $3.94 on April 5 and 6. The highest price to date in 2013 is $3.79 recorded on Feb. 27.


Seven states have a lower pump price average today than Oklahoma, with Wyoming the bargain of the nation at $3.321. Among the 48 contiguous states, California has the highest average – $4.169.


The nationwide spike in pump prices earlier this year was a product of refinery maintenance and concerns, as well as more expensive crude oil. These refinery issues pressured both wholesale and futures prices higher for gasoline, while crude oil prices increased slightly during the same period. The recent decline in the national average is partially due to cheaper crude oil but is more closely linked to sharply lower wholesale gasoline prices.


At the close of formal trading on Monday, March 11, on the NYMEX, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices settled up 11 cents at $92.06 per barrel. For comparison, on the nearest trading day in 2011 and 2012, WTI settled at $101.16 and $106.34, respectively. These more expensive prices in recent years were driven by violence and geopolitical tensions overseas (Libya in 2011 and Iran in 2012). Without similar concerns to begin 2013, crude oil prices have been less expensive and less volatile.

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