VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (March 21, 2016) – It seems that the luck of the Irish is not with motorists this month, as drivers continue to experience rising gas prices after St. Patrick’s Day. Today, the average price for regular gas in Hampton Roads is $1.82, only a penny less than the current average price in Virginia which is $1.83. The Tidewater area has witnessed a 29 cent overall increase for the month of March, whereas Virginia had a 26 cent climb. Gas prices have increased largely due to seasonal increases in fuel demand and reduced production as some refineries conduct maintenance. The good news is Hampton Roads prices are still 43 cents cheaper than this time last year across the Commonwealth prices are 41 cents less than in 2015.
Gas prices tend to reach the highest levels of the year in the spring before the summer driving season. As the weather turns warmer and days grow longer, people tend to drive more, which results in increased demand. Many families also take spring break road trips this time of year, which means they may use more gasoline than normal. This increase in demand comes at the same time that many refineries conduct maintenance to prepare equipment for the busy summer driving season, which leads to a temporary decline in fuel production. In addition, refineries also begin to transition to summer-blend gasoline, which is more expensive to produce, but mandated due to the fact that it is causes less air pollution at warmer temperatures. These factors typically lead to higher gas prices this time of year and have helped push prices higher in recent weeks.
For the first time in 13 weeks, the U.S. oil rig count increased, which raises the possibility of continued strong production in the United States despite relatively low crude oil prices. Both Brent and West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed last week with gains, but each benchmark moved lower on Friday as oversupply concerns again come into focus. Global oil prices are expected to continue to move in response to ongoing discussions by some of the world’s top producers to potentially freeze production, which could be finalized at a meeting scheduled for April 17. The U.S. dollar is also in focus after posting its largest two-day loss in value since 2009. All eyes are on the Federal Reserve to see if corrective action is taken to help boost its value. A weaker dollar makes oil relatively less expensive for investors holding other currencies, which could help offset some of the market’s losses.
At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI was down 76 cents to settle at $39.44 per barrel.
Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
As part of North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA Tidewater Virginia provides its more than 330,000 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