After a nice decline in December that gave motorists a much-needed break, gasoline prices rose sharply in January.
The national average price of regular gas is around $3.48 a gallon. A month ago, motorists paid only $3.21 a gallon. The rise has led to fears that fuel prices would resume their march to the all-time highs recorded in June.
But one industry expert says the increase may be over, at least for the moment. Posting on Twitter, Patrick DeHaan, head of Petroleum Analysis at GasBuddy, says the increases have slowed.
“The national average (is) now 1.1 cents higher than a week ago at $3.48/gal,” DeHaan wrote. “With oil, gasoline and distillate values sagging, we may soon see week-on-week drops in average prices.”
Hawaii has the most expensive gasoline in the U.S., with its average price of regular at $4.93 a gallon. However, that’s down from a month ago when the average price was over $5 a gallon.
California still has the second-most-expensive regular gas, with a statewide average of $4.57 a gallon. Its price is also higher than a month ago, the opposite of the nationwide trend.
Texas has the cheapest prices
Texas has the cheapest gasoline this week. The statewide average price of regular is $3.12 a gallon. That’s 27 cents higher than a month ago. While the increase in fuel prices may be slowing, the effects may be temporary.
“January’s weather was relatively mild in much of the nation, which led to more drivers hitting the road. However, a return of wintery conditions in February may see a revival of seasonal driving patterns,” said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson. “But with the cost of oil stubbornly hovering around $80 per barrel, drivers probably won’t catch a big break at the pump over the next week or two.”
Late winter and early spring are typically the time when refineries begin maintenance, which reduces fuel production. Assuming demand remains consistent, that can prevent prices from falling and even send them higher.
Spring is also the time when refineries begin producing summer blends of gasoline, which are more expensive – a fact that will probably confront consumers at the gas pump.