NATIONAL REPORT — After a brief decline, fuel prices are back on the rise again. The national average for a gallon of regular gas rose four cents during the past week to $4.12, according to AAA.
Upward pricing pressure on concerns that less Russian oil will enter the global market is countered by fears of a COVID-induced economic slowdown in China, the world's leading oil consumer, stated AAA. These opposing forces are causing the oil price to hover around $100 a barrel.
"As long as the price of oil stays elevated, the price at the pump will struggle to fall," said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson. "Consumers may be catching a little break from March's record-high prices, but don't expect any dramatic drops."
According to new data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), total domestic gasoline stocks decreased by nearly 1 million barrels to 232.3 million barrels last week. Gasoline demand increased slightly from 8.73 million barrels per day to 8.86 million barrels per day. Although supply and demand factors would have typically supported elevated pump prices, the fluctuating price of oil continues to be the main factor influencing prices at the pump, reported AAA.
As of April 25, the $4.12 national average for a gallon of gas is 12 cents less than a month ago, and $1.24 more than a year ago.
The nation's top 10 largest weekly increases were seen in Maryland (+13 cents), Delaware (+12 cents), Kansas (+11 cents), South Dakota (+11 cents), Connecticut (+10 cents), Florida (+9 cents), Nebraska (+9 cents), Missouri (+9 cents), Rhode Island (+9 cents) and Washington, D.C. (+8 cents).
The nation's top 10 least expensive markets are Georgia ($3.71 per gallon), Arkansas ($3.74), Missouri ($3.75), Ohio ($3.75), Kansas ($3.77), Oklahoma ($3.77), Mississippi ($3.77), Texas ($3.77), South Carolina ($3.78) and Kentucky ($3.79).
At the close of April 22's formal trading session, West Texas Intermediate crude oil decreased by $1.72 to $102.07. Crude prices weakened at the end of the day due to demand concerns in Shanghai as fears of a demand-reducing slowdown in global economic activity loom.
Just two weeks ago, Convenience Store Newsreported that after rising for several weeks, the cost of gasoline was sliding due to falling oil prices. In much of the country, the average price of gasoline had fallen below $4 per gallon, according to AAA, which cited lower gas prices as the United States and its allies agree to significant releases of oil reserves. Also pushing oil prices down was the fear of resurgent COVID-19 infections in China and its potential for an economic slowdown in one of the world's largest oil-consuming nations.
However, CSNews also reported that during the summer driving season — defined as April through September — the average price for a gallon of gasoline is expected to be $3.84, the highest price seen since 2014 when adjusting for inflation, according to the EIA’s "Summer Fuels Outlook." In 2021, summer fuel prices averaged $3.06 per gallon.
The EIA expects higher fuel prices this summer as a result of higher crude oil prices. Crude oil prices have generally risen since the start of the year, partly as a result of geopolitical developments, particularly Russia's war against Ukraine.