Gasoline prices still climbing

Western Pennsylvania gas prices continued to climb for the third consecutive week. Wednesday’s average, $3.747 per gallon, is seven cents higher than last Tuesday.

Since mid-January the national price at the pump has been propelled higher by somewhat more expensive crude oil, but more notably by regional refinery issues and the approaching switchover to summer-blend gasoline. Unlike recent years (Libya in 2011 and Iran in 2012), escalating geopolitical tensions overseas have not been a major contributing factor to the early-year price increase. Without a similar “risk premium” built into futures prices or new market-moving news, AAA expects that the increases to the national average will slow as temporary production concerns are addressed. Based on this expectation, the national average is likely to peak this spring at a lower price than in 2011 ($3.98 on May 5) and 2012 ($3.94 on April 5 and 6).Today’s national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.60.

Prices in every state have increased over the last week. There were some reports of long lines at the pump as drivers filled up their cars in advance of Nor’easter that blanketed much of the Northeast with snow over the weekend; however the ultimate short-term impact on regional retail prices was minimal as expected. The ultimate impact of the storm is likely to be one of demand destruction, as the snow continues to keep drivers off of the road in the densely populated Northeast. Traders are likely to keep a close eye on demand numbers when they are reported in the coming weeks.

After declining slightly to end last week, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) prices again moved up Monday settling $1.31 higher at $97.03 per barrel at the close of formal trading on the NYMEX.

This week’s average prices: Western PA Average, $ 3.747

Average price during the week of February 5, 2013, $ 3.678

Average price during the week of February 14, 2012, $ 3.569

Wednesday’s National Average Price, $ 3.604

The following is a list of the average price of unleaded self-serve gasoline in various areas: