VIRGINIA BEACH, VA, (February 9, 2015) – Hampton Roads gas prices have risen sharply in the last seven days with unleaded self-serve landing 14 cents higher than last week and currently resting at $2.14. Even with the rapid increase, Hampton Roads prices are still lower than last year by $1.03 and across Virginia; motorists are still experiencing some of the lowest gas prices since 2009.
The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has increased every day for two weeks for a total of 14 cents per gallon. Gas prices had previously dropped for a record 123 consecutive days before beginning to rise again on January 27. Today’s price of $2.18 per gallon is 12 cents more than one week ago and three cents more than one month ago. While prices have moved higher recently, the national average remains significantly less expensive than one year ago when consumers were paying $1.11 more per gallon on average to refuel their vehicles.
February typically marks the start of seasonal refinery maintenance in preparation for the busy summer driving season. Refineries usually schedule maintenance during the first several months of the year when demand is relatively low, which can lead to decreased production and supplies.
There is additional market uncertainty this week because approximately 5,200 members of the United Steelworkers union have walked off their jobs at refineries and chemical plants responsible for processing more than 10 percent of U.S. petroleum products. While this is the first nationwide strike at U.S. oil refineries since 1980, the work stoppage is not expected to have a significant impact on production in the short-term because refineries continue to operate. While news of the strike has reportedly led to higher wholesale gasoline prices, abundant petroleum supplies may provide both refiners and unions with a chance to reach an agreement before there is a larger impact on consumers.
An oversupplied global market is expected to keep the price of crude relatively low for at least the first half of 2015. Nonetheless, the global market’s overall volatility is at a six-year high and prices have seesawed, often daily, in response to a number of factors that are putting pressure on the balance between supply and demand. High-cost production countries continue to reassess their overall production goals, and Saudi Arabia is currently maneuvering to protect its market share by adjusting prices to various countries, including Asia and the United States.
This past week WTI traded between the high $40s and low $50s, reflecting the global market’s volatility. At the close of Friday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI was up $1.21 to settle at $51.69 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 or on Facebook at facebook.com/AAATidewaterVirginia