WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Retail gasoline prices in the United States are on the rise ahead of the last major travel holiday season of the year, motor club AAA reported.
The national average retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline for Tuesday was $2.22 per gallon, about 1.8 percent higher than this time last week. That contrasts with a recent trend set with price declines over 53 of 54 days earlier this year, AAA reported.
In its weekly market report, AAA found that regional refinery issues, the potential for inclement weather in the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico and higher crude oil prices were to blame for the spike in prices.
As usual, the Great Lakes states are experiencing the highest degree of swings in gasoline prices, with five states there topping the list for price increases over the past week. Among those five, Michigan gas prices spiked at nearly twice the rate of the rest of the nation to reach $2.38 per gallon state-wide. AAA said lingering issues at a BP refinery in Whiting, Ind., the region's largest, continue to put pressure on retail prices.
In the south, AAA said price pressures are emerging as refineries and operators there make preparations for possible disruptions from a mix of bad weather in the Gulf of Mexico. British energy BP said Monday it evacuated non-essential staff from four of its drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico as a security precaution. The motor club, however, said storm systems appear to be tracking away from regional refinery and petroleum infrastructure.
On the price of oil, which accounts for the bulk of the price at the pump, AAA said upward movements last week spilled over to the retail sector as the price for Brent crude oil responded to chatter about a potential move from major oil producers at a September meeting in Algeria to take extraordinary steps to prop up the market. The motor club said it does not expect to see any meaningful action taken, however.
Demand pressures may be keeping gas prices higher as well as more than half of all Americans are expected to take a road trip during the upcoming Labor Day holiday. After that, however, prices at the pump usually drop off as demand pressures ease and refineries start making a winter blend of gasoline, which is less expensive to produce because of fewer necessary environmental safeguards.