WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Low oil prices and the ending of a season of heavy refinery maintenance are pushing the U.S. average price for gas close to a historic record, analysts say.
Motor club AAA says refinery issues in the Midwest are winding down. Those issues during the late summer driving season skewed the national average higher as some retail stations in metropolitan areas like Chicago were selling gas above the $3 mark.
"Historically, gasoline demand tends to decline during the month of November, and with the autumn refinery maintenance season nearing completion, pump prices are expected to move lower to close out the year, barring any unanticipated outages or supply disruptions," AAA said in a weekly retail report.
The motor club reports a national average retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline at $2.14 for Tuesday, down about 0.6 percent from Monday and 5.5 percent lower than this time last month. AAA says the trend is moving toward $2 per gallon for a national average before the end of the year, which would be the first time retail prices moved that low since 2009.
At the wholesale level, analysts at the price-watching group GasBuddy.com said gasoline prices in the Midwest are the lowest in the nation. While last week's terrorist attacks on Paris added positive pressure at the wholesale level, broader macroeconomic issues, like the return of Japan to economic recession, pulled oil prices lower to start the week.
"The broader view seems to hold that despite the horrific attacks and the outrage felt globally, the financial markets have shown increasing resilience in recent years and are rarely spooked when fundamentals and infrastructure are uncompromised," Gregg Laskoski, a senior analyst for GasBuddy, said in an emailed statement.
Thirteen states are reporting an average price for Tuesday below the $2 mark. South Carolina has the lowest average price in the nation at $1.90 per gallon.