Pump prices stall
February 5, 2018--7:55 a.m.
Gas prices increased throughout most of the country last week, albeit by a smaller margin than recent weeks.
Georgia gas prices increased 1-cent last week but moved slightly lower during the weekend.
Sunday's average price of $2.49 is 13 cents more than a month ago, and 31 cents more than this time last year.
Georgia motorists are finding the highest gas prices for this time of year since 2014.
The state average for the entire month of January finished at $2.42; an increase of 19 cents from January 2017.
The most expensive gas price averages in Georgia are in Brunswick ($2.53), Savannah ($2.52), and Hinesville-Fort Stewart ($2.52)
The least expensive gas price averages in Georgia are in Warner Robins ($2.42), Dalton ($2.43), and Augusta-Aiken ($2.43)
"Motorists got some relief from rising gas prices over the weekend," said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA - The Auto Club Group. "The futures market was uninspired last week, and wholesale gasoline dropped a nickel. While we could some small discounts this month, those will likely be erased as we move into refinery maintenance season. Typically maintenance season reaches its peak in mid-March. This results in reduced refinery output and rising prices at the pump."
Oil Prices Lose Upward Momentum; Remain Elevated
If you are wondering why gas prices are so high, the answer lies in the price of crude. Oil prices are trading at $33 per barrel more than this time two years ago - when gas prices were below $2 a gallon. After steadily climbing a total of $15 in the past four months, the price of oil remained relatively flat last week. WTI settled at $65.45 per barrel on Friday and averaged only 17 cents more than the week before. The highest daily settlement - so far this year - was $66.14/b on Friday, January 26.
Oil prices leveled out after the EIA's latest energy report showed gains in domestic crude inventory levels. This was the first measurable growth in U.S. crude supplies in the last 11 weeks, thanks to lower refinery runs, higher crude oil production and imports. More positive news is that domestic oil production is closing in on 10 million barrels per day, which would nearly double the amount seen a decade ago.
However, there are several other factors providing a floor for current crude prices. Domestic inventory levels remain significantly lower than last year (-15%), and since U.S. oil exports are at record highs, it is difficult to establish significant supply builds. In addition, low oil production from Venezuela, high Chinese demand, and OPEC's 1.8 million barrel per day production cuts, are all keeping upward pressure on oil prices.