Retail gasoline prices on the rise as crude oil markets recover and refineries start preparations for the summer driving season. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON, March 8 (UPI) -- The average price for a gallon of gasoline in the United States is on the rise and is likely to keep moving higher through spring, motor club AAA reported.
AAA reports a national average retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline at $1.81 for Tuesday, unchanged from the previous day, but 6 cents, or 3 percent, higher than last week. By its accounting, the price increase over the past week was one of the highest so far this year.
In a weekly retail report, the motor club said fading winter means more demand for fuel. On the industry side, crude oil prices are moving higher and refineries are starting to make a summer blend of gasoline, which is more expensive to manufacture because of additional environmental safeguards required for warmer months. Additionally, refineries have started to cut production in an effort to stimulate prices on the retail side.
For markets, crude oil prices are edging higher in response to lower production forecasts and discussions of a production freeze between Russia, Saudi Arabia and other petroleum states. The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, is up 13 percent for the month.
AAA said seasonal and market factors should push retail gasoline prices higher through spring, though fundamentals still point to weakness. Crude oil prices are about 40 percent lower than this date in 2015. Retail gasoline prices are 26 percent, or about 64 cents, less than this time last year.
"The lower price of crude oil and abundant supplies should keep a ceiling on how high gas prices move in the coming months, and barring any unexpected disruptions in supply, drivers should continue to benefit from relative savings at the pump," the motor club said in its weekly report.
Arizona has the lowest state average price in the nation at $1.55 per gallon.