News Release, AAA Mid-Atlantic
After several weeks of declines, local drivers saw an uptick at the gas pump this week. Rising crude oil prices and a slight dip in local gasoline supply numbers are contributing to the increase. Crude prices are being pushed higher by China’s efforts to curb economic damage brought on by the effects of the coronavirus and optimism that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies will increase production cuts next month. AAA warns that drivers could see more fluctuation at the pump in the near future.
The gas price average in Maryland today is $2.38, which is up five cents in the last week, down eight cents in the last month, and is up five cents from this date last year.
Today’s national gas price average is $2.46, up three cents in the last week, down eight cents in the last month and up nine cents from this time last year.
CURRENT AND PAST GAS PRICE AVERAGES
Regular Unleaded Gasoline
|Today||Week Ago||Month Ago||Year Ago|
|Washington Suburbs(MD only)||$2.47||$2.44||$2.56||$2.38|
|Crude Oil||$53.38per barrel(2/21/20)||$52.05per barrel(2/14/20)||$54.19per barrel(1/24/20)||$57.26per barrel(2/22/19)|
At the close of NYMEX trading Friday, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil settled at $53.38 per barrel, $1.33 higher than last Friday’s close. Crude prices increased during the week as data showed a smaller than expected weekly inventory build and the market reacted to a move by China’s central bank aimed at boosting that country’s economy and softening the blow brought on by the coronavirus. Prices were also supported by optimism that OPEC and its allies could increase production cuts next month.
“Domestic wholesale gasoline and global crude oil prices increased this week causing gas prices to fluctuate,” says Ragina C. Ali, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Pump prices in the week ahead could see further volatility depending on movement of the oil market as well as U.S. gasoline demand and stock levels numbers.”
The Week Ahead
Drivers may see prices at the pump start to climb in the next few weeks as refinery maintenance season continues. In the months following maintenance season, gasoline refiners and retailers will switchover to summer-blend gasoline. Summer-blend gasoline has a lower RVP (Reid vapor pressure), a measure for gasoline volatility, to prevent excessive evaporation when outside temperatures rise. Reducing the volatility of summer gas decreases emissions that can contribute to unhealthy ozone and smog levels. A lower RVP also helps prevent drivability problems such as vapor lock on hot days, especially in older vehicles. Summer-blend gasoline, mandated for refiners beginning May 1 to September 15 and for retailers June 1 to September, is more expensive to produce, and that cost is passed on to the motorist.