March 19 (UPI) -- Fuel prices in retail service stations across the U.S. rose again in the week ended Monday, for the first time in 2019 reaching its year-ago levels.
"Today's price is just as expensive as the same day a year ago," the AAA driver organization said in its weekly report, indicating this is the first time since November this has happened.
Since early February, gasoline demand has been steadily increasing," said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. In previous weeks, while gasoline prices rose they were always well below the 2018 levels.
"While the national gas price average is the same price year-over-year, only 20 states can say the same. Across the country, the yearly difference ranges from as much as 25-cents cheaper to 10-cents more expensive," the AAA said.
Gasoline prices rose 7 cents per gallon on the week and 23-cents per gallon on the month as of Monday, the AAA added.
In the mid-Atlantic and Northeast region, two states, Pennsylvania and New York, and Washington D.C., are on the list of top ten most expensive vehicle fuel in the nation -- though the biggest weekly gain was in Delaware, with a 10 cents-per-gallon increase.
This stock level, the lowest seen this year, can be attributed to exports as well as to planned and unplanned refinery maintenance, the AAA said.
In the Great Lakes and Central States, prices are 16 cents more expensive on the week. Iowa has seen the biggest month-on-month increase at 33 cents per gallon.
Gasoline stocks took a large 1.5 million barrel draw on the week, according to the latest Energy Information Administration data.
In the South and Southeast, Florida saw the second largest increase in the country with a 15 cents per gallon price hike.
The region shows the largest draw of inventory of any region in the country.
In the Rockies, prices rose as much as 9 cents per gallon. Two states are among the top ten cheapest gas prices in the country. Fuel prices in Utah, the lowest, were $2.31 per gallon. Gasoline inventories there have held, and contributed to relative steady prices.
In the West Coast region, all states, including Hawaii and Alaska, saw price increases, with Oregon leading with a 5 cent per gallon increase. Gasoline stocks were nearly unchanged on the week, but were lower than at this time last year.
Gas Buddy, which also tracks U.S. fuel prices, estimated the average gasoline price in retail stations in the United States at $2.54 per gallon, or a 4.3 cent per gallon rise over the last week. The average price of diesel rose 0.4 cents to $3.01 per gallon, it added.
Fuel sold in service stations across most of the United States is a combination of blendstock, like RBOB, or Reformulate Gasoline Blendstock for Oxygenate Blending, later mixed with oxygenate which adds oxygen to the emission to make it cleaner.
These blendstock products are all naphtha obtained from crude oil. The naphtha is in most cases later mixed with about 10 percent ethanol.
RBOB futures for April delivery were quoted Tuesday morning at $1.89 per gallon. This is higher than $1.83 per gallon a week earlier and $1.57 per gallon on Feb. 26.
Ethanol, alcohol that, in the United States, is mostly derived from corn and added to the gasoline mix as an oxygenate, was quoted Tuesday at $1.43 per gallon for April delivery, up from $1.30 a week ago.
This is the season in which refiners change to a warmer weather, and more expensive, fuel mix. Seasonal prices in the United States begin to increase in February and continue until the end of May.