VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., (June 1, 2015) - After a steady increase in recent months, it is possible that Hampton Roads pump prices may be near a seasonal peak along with the rest of the nation. In Hampton Roads, the current gas price is $2.54 which is the same as a week ago but 17 cents higher than last month while still a $1.00 lower than last year. Gas prices surged this spring due to a rally in crude oil prices from multi-year lows, seasonal refinery maintenance, and the changeover to summer-blend gasoline and domestic refinery issues that have impacted regional production. Today’s national average of $2.75 per gallon is fractions of a penny higher than one week ago and 14 cents more per gallon than one month ago.
While pump prices have been rising, the national average price for regular unleaded gasoline remains significantly discounted versus this same date last year (-92 cents) and consumers are on target to pay the lowest prices at the pump during the summer driving season since 2009. Relatively low prices at the pump, combined with a recovering economy, have contributed to drivers traveling more during the first quarter of the year than any other year on record.
There is the possibility that some consumers could see prices temporarily climb higher later this summer if severe weather impacts refinery production. The Atlantic hurricane season is officially underway and spans from June 1-November 30. This year’s season is expected to be below-normal, meaning between three to six tropical storms have a 70 percent chance of becoming hurricanes. These storms have the potential to disrupt production, refining and distribution. Shortages in supply could lead to regional price spikes and/or shortages in select markets should any tropical storms or hurricanes make landfall.
Midwestern drivers continue to face higher prices as a result of supply issues in the region. Another major refinery located in Toledo, Ohio is expected to be offline for two to three weeks while the fluid catalytic cracking unit is replaced, and prices in surrounding states will likely be impacted. This latest outage is in addition to ExxonMobil’s Joliet, Ill. refinery and Citgo’s refinery in Lemont, Ill., which are both running at reduced rates.
Both Brent and West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices rallied to close out this past week, following reports of violence in Saudi Arabia and weekly U.S. rig counts falling by double-digits. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, domestic gasoline demand is trending higher than in previous years but the
impact of this increase on retail gasoline prices is uncertain. Additionally, it is generally expected that OPEC will sustain its current output levels when it meets on June 5 in Vienna, keeping the global market oversupplied in the near term and placing a ceiling on how high crude prices could move. At the close of Friday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, West Texas Intermediate crude oil settled $2.62 higher at $60.30 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