VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., (March 18, 2014) - Today’s national average price at the pump is $3.52 per gallon, which is the highest price in more than six months. This price is three cents more expensive than one week ago and 17 cents above one month ago, but national prices still average 17 cents per gallon less than the same date last year. The average pump price has increased on 38 of the past 39 days and jumped by a quarter (13 percent) during this span.
In Virginia, the average price for regular unleaded fuel is $3.32. This is five cents higher than week ago and 13 cents higher than last month, but fortunately, still 27 cents lower than last year. The current Hampton Roads average on unleaded gas is $3.34 which is five cents higher than a week ago, 14 cents higher a month ago and 20 cents lower than a year ago.
AAA expects the national average will peak in late March or early April between $3.55 and $3.75 per gallon, due to seasonal refinery maintenance and the approaching switchover to producing summer-blend gasoline that is required by May 1. In 2011 the national average peaked at $3.98 per gallon on May 5. In 2012 the national average peaked at $3.94 per gallon on April 5. In 2013 prices peaked at $3.79 on February 27, which was the earliest peak on record.
Prices in nearly every state have moved higher over the last week, led by a nine-cent increase in Washington D.C. The east coast in particular, has been subject to upward pressure from limited ethanol supplies due to logistical challenges, which have resulted in wholesale ethanol prices of $3.50 per gallon in many markets. More than 90 percent of the gasoline sold in the U.S. is “E10,” which contains up to ten percent ethanol, and ethanol is regularly used as an additive to improve the octane rating of sub-octane gasoline for sale to motorists.
Easing (but still present) worries surrounding geopolitical tensions with Russia, worse than expected economic data out of China, an announced test sale of 5 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and a larger than anticipated increase of domestic crude oil supplies resulted in West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices settling below $100 per barrel last Wednesday for the first time in more than a month. Prices have remained below this threshold including their settlement 81 cents lower today at $98.43 per barrel.
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.