No, it’s not your imagination: prices at the pump have been on the rise for a while now. The average price of gasoline has moved higher for 19 consecutive days, adding some 23 cents per gallon due to higher crude oil costs and a number of refinery issues, according to AAA.
AAA pegged the average price across the country at $2.62 per gallon, which represents the most expensive average price of the year. Motorists are paying eight cents more per gallon than one week ago and 22 cents more than one month ago to refuel their vehicles.
Although the national average is currently moving higher, relatively lower crude prices continue to provide consumers with significant year-over-year-savings and today’s price is $1.06 per gallon less than a year ago, AAA said.
The price at the pump often increases in the spring due to seasonal maintenance, rising demand and the higher costs associated with producing more expensive summer-blend gasoline, which is required in many parts of the country to combat emissions in warmer temperatures. Unexpected refinery issues are also keeping upward pressure on the national average and consumers may see prices rise a bit higher over the next few weeks.
In addition, Americans indicate that they expect to drive more in the next few months. Six of 10 Americans say they are more likely to take a road trip of 50 miles or more away from home in 2015 if gas prices remain near recent levels. Younger Americans are more likely than older Americans to take a road trip, according to a AAA survey.
However, only 13% of Americans report driving more due to recent gas prices. These results indicate that most Americans are unlikely to change their regular driving habits due to lower gas prices. Younger Americans are significantly more likely to report driving more due to lower gas prices than older Americans.
(Ford going mainstream with CNG version of F-150. For more, Click Here.)
Meanwhile, the West Coast continues to lead the nation in posting the highest prices for retail gasoline due to regional refinery issues that have caused prices to race higher. California at $3.71 remains the nation’s most expensive market and is joined by three other states with averages above $3 per gallon: Hawaii at $3.19, Nevada at $3.17 and Alaska at $3.09.
The majority of states are posting averages above $2.50 per gallon. South Carolina at $2.33, Missouri at $2.34 and Oklahoma at $2.36 are the nation’s least expensive markets for retail gasoline.
(Click Here for details Chevy cutting price, increasing range on new Volt.)
The price of crude rallied to close out the month, due to a slowdown in U.S. production, a weakening dollar and growing instability in the Middle East. U.S. oil supplies remain at record highs, but the growth in production has reportedly slowed in recent weeks, which could indicate a new balance in supply and demand.
(To see why green car buyers are more likely to pay with green, Click Here.)
The market also is focused on issues in the Strait of Hormuz – the narrow waterway off the Iranian coast that provides access to major oil-exporting ports in the region. The U.S. is increasing its naval presence in the region after Iran unexpectedly seized a container ship attempting to pass through the strait. Historically this strait has often been at the center of tensions between the U.S. and Iran.