Not surprisingly, with the Memorial Day Holiday – the official start of the summer driving season – fast approaching, gasoline prices continue to increase. They climbed by a nickel a gallon, according to AAA, in the last week.
The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has increased on 32 of the past 34 days, reaching today’s price of $2.71 per gallon. Consumers are paying 26 cents more per gallon than one month ago.
Pump prices have moved higher nationwide in recent months, largely due to the global rally in crude prices. The impact of more expensive crude oil on gas prices has been exacerbated by refinery problems.
The West Coast continues to lead the market with some of the nation’s highest averages for retail gasoline due to localized refinery issues during the past several months, which have kept supplies tight.
The West Coast is relatively isolated from other markets and is more dependent on in-region production, making it harder for the market to adjust to supply disruptions.
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However, prices across the Midwest have posted among the most dramatic jumps in the past week. The Midwestern increase has been due to regional production issues, including a problem at ExxonMobil’s 248,000 barrel per day Joliet refinery in Channahon, Ill. Reports of reduced output from the facility sparked sharp increases at the pump for Midwestern drivers.
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Nevertheless, even with the national averages reaching new highs for 2015, drivers are still experiencing significant yearly savings at the pump. Compared to last Memorial Day prices are down 94 cents year-over-year, making it the lowest average for this date since 2009.
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AAA Travel expects 37.2 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, a 4.7% increase from the 35.5 million people who traveled last year and the highest travel volume for the holiday in 10 years. Kicking off the summer driving season, 33 million travelers will be driving to their destinations by the end of the holiday weekend on May 25.