VIRGINIA BEACH, VA., (April 2, 2015) - Lower gas prices may be on the way for U.S. consumers by this summer if refinery maintenance ends smoothly and if crude oil remains relatively cheap. It is even possible that gas prices will return to near $2 per gallon in some areas, as long as there are no unexpected problems. Even better news, AAA does not expect the national average to rise above $3 per gallon during 2015. Gas prices have continued to drop for the last 23 consecutive days in Hampton Roads. Currently, the price of regular unleaded gas in the area is $2.18 per gallon which is four cents less than last week, 12 cents less than last month and $1.28 less than last year.
“There is real hope that gas prices could continue to drop significantly in time for the busy summer driving season,” said Georjeane Blumling, Vice President of Public Affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia. “The overall outlook looks good for drivers, and with any luck we will avoid the types of problems that often lead to higher gas prices this time of year.” Many refineries have completed their seasonal maintenance without delays, though unexpected problems could still occur. Most refineries and wholesalers will switch to more expensive summer-blend gasoline by May 1 to meet EPA clean air regulations.
The cost of crude oil is likely to be the most important factor influencing gas prices over the next few months. Many experts believe that crude oil prices may drop further due to abundant supplies, but international conflict, declining production or other issues could result in higher prices.
There is a glut of petroleum around the world that has helped to keep prices at the lowest levels since 2009. Domestic oil production remains about 14 percent higher than a year ago. U.S. commercial crude oil supplies are about 24 percent higher than a year ago, while gasoline supplies are about six percent higher than a year ago. In addition, a nuclear deal with Iran may allow that country to export more crude oil, which would further increase global oil supplies.
There remains a possibility that oil prices could rise despite abundant supplies. Most recently, the market has been concerned that the conflict in Yemen could lead to violence in major oil-producing countries, such as Saudi Arabia.
As part of North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA Tidewater Virginia provides its more than 325,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding AAA Tidewater Virginia has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. For more information, visit AAA.com and follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/AAATidewaterVA or on Facebook at facebook.com/AAATidewaterVirginia