VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., (May 31, 2016) - The 2016 summer driving season is officially underway and drivers are paying the lowest gas prices for this time of year in more than a decade. Hampton Roads continue to see the cheapest gas prices in 11 years with the current average at $2.15 which is 38 cents less than last year despite a slight increase in May. This year’s summer driving season is expected to be characterized by higher-than-normal gasoline demand, that remains on pace to test the high levels reached in 2007. Refineries nationwide are working in preparation for what is likely to be record breaking season and if they are able to keep pace, pump prices should remain relatively lower.
A wildcard for gas prices in the coming months is the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which runs from June 1 – November 30. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center, this year’s season will likely be near normal, which means of the 10-16 named storms, four to eight could become hurricanes. Should any of these severe storms or hurricanes reach landfall, production, refining and distribution could be impacted. This can lead price spikes in regional markets along the coast and in areas that rely upon crude oil and refined product from these regions.
Over the past week both global crude oil benchmarks, Brent and West Texas Intermediate, exceeded the $50 per barrel threshold due to expectations of tightening supply. The wildfires in the Canadian Oil Sands and geopolitical tensions in Nigeria and Libya helped to boost the price. Crude oil is also reportedly gaining strength on a weakening U.S. dollar which makes oil less expensive for countries holding other currencies. Attention is now focused on OPEC’s next meeting, scheduled for June 2, though the cartel may continue its current course of action and refrain from cutting production to help balance the market.
At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI closed down 15 cents to settle at $49.33 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