WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- An August rally in crude oil prices, coupled with regional refinery issues, resulted in the snap of a seven-week streak of declining fuel prices, AAA reported.
The motor club reports a national average retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline at $2.18, a 2.4 percent increase from last week. Tuesday's price marks the seventh straight day for an increase, with follows a streak of declines that lasted nearly seven weeks.
"Pump prices have been driven by crude oil prices surging more than 20 percent this month and refinery issues impacting production in some regions," the motor club said in its weekly retail market report.
Crude oil prices started moving modestly higher in early August on signs of a narrowing gap between supply and demand. The price for crude oil rallied strongly in mid-August after Saudi Arabia's oil minister said major producers may take action to stimulate the market even further.
The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, is up 3 percent from last week.
Lingering refinery issues, meanwhile, are creating price pressures at the national level, with Louisiana flooding and a fire at a Texas refinery influencing prices for southern U.S. states. In the Midwest, already the most volatile retail fuel market in the country, BP has been slow to resolve maintenance issues at its refinery in Whiting, Ind., the largest in the region.
"While prices in recent weeks have been a mixed bag of increases and decreases, regional prices over the past week have moved universally higher, with Midwestern states filling the top-five increases during this span," AAA said.
Indiana and Kentucky tied for the highest increase in terms of price, with 10 cents each from last week.
Prices could move lower as the end of the summer driving season ends in September. Estimates from the federal U.S. government show the price for Brent crude oil could average $42 per barrel for the year and the price at the pump from April through September should average $2.19 per gallon, which would be about 17 percent lower than last year.