Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Fuel prices in service stations across the United States as of mid-January were on average just a penny higher at $2.25 per gallon, ending consecutive weekly price declines that had occurred since October.
As of January 14, fuel pumps charged on average 1 cent more after crude oil prices gained during the past week, "which is starting to push up pump prices," said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson.
Yet, prices were kept nearly flat thanks to ample gasoline inventories in most areas, the drivers' organization added.
"Last week saw not only more expensive crude oil, but a sizeable build in U.S. gasoline stocks and a small increase in demand. Overall demand has been low lately, contributing to the growth in stocks and helping to keep gas prices lower despite increasing crude prices," the AAA said.
Average gasoline prices were lower month-over-month at a 14-cent decline and a year-over-year drop of 28 cents.
In the Great Lakes and Central regions, price gains were led by increases in Ohio and Indiana, both 8 cents per gallon higher on the week. "With these increases, many states' averages have surpassed the $2 per gallon mark," the AAA said.
The Great Lakes and Central region price increases occurred despite a gasoline inventory build, "adding a staggering 2.7 million barrels," and with a total of 57 million barrels that is a 4 million barrel year-over-year surplus.
As for the Rockies, most states there saw some of the biggest changes in fuel prices in the country. Wyoming, with an average 8 cents per gallon decline, saw the biggest change there.
Gasoline prices in the Rockies, about 40 cents less than a month ago, are on the decline as regional refinery utilization is at its highest in weeks. Inventories added 242,000 barrels during the week and are expected to continue to increase throughout the winter, the AAA said.
In the South and Southeast, gasoline prices fluctuated "with increases and decreases as much as four cents on the week."
"The majority of states continue to carry the cheapest gas prices in the country," the statement said. Arkansas, at $1.90 per gallon has the lowest price. The region saw a small build in inventories.
In the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast fuel prices saw "small jumps and decreases," amid low demand and a continued gasoline inventory buildup. Delaware saw a 4 cent per gallon price increase.
In the West Coast, where fuel prices are consistently among the highest in the nation, all state averages moved lower in the week, led by Alaska with a decline of 8 cents per gallon.
California, which has stricter pollution control standards, is the nation's most expensive market with a gallon there costing $3.28.
West Coast prices declined as gasoline stocks surged by 2.4 million barrels, "the largest one-week build in nearly 26 years."
Fuel sold in service stations across most of the United States is a combination of either RBOB, Reformulate Gasoline Blendstock for Oxygenate Blending, or CBOB, Conventional Blendstock for Oxygenate Blending. Some states use RBOB and others CBOB. California mandates a special formula named CARBOB.
These blendstock products are all naphtha obtained from crude oil. The naphtha is in most cases later mixed with about 10 percent ethanol, which is an oxygenate added so that the ending emission is cleaner.
RBOB gasoline futures for February delivery were quoted Tuesday morning at $1.39 per gallon. This compares with $1.34 per gallon on January 8 for February delivery.
Ethanol, which is alcohol that in the United States is mostly derived from corn, was quoted early Tuesday at $1.29 for February delivery, slightly higher than $1.28 per gallon for February delivery a week earlier.