Gas prices hit levels not seen since 2015

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FILE – In this Thursday, July 16, 2015, file photo, a customer re-fuels her car at a Costco in Robinson Township, Pa. The plunging price of oil in 2016 is dragging stock markets to their worst start to a year ever, even though low fuel prices are great for consumers and most companies. (AP Photo/Gene […]

The temporary freeze on gasoline prices has melted away with the national average rising 6 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.71 per gallon Monday, according to GasBuddy’s latest weekly survey of 135,000 gas stations.

It’s the highest tally in 995 days, with diesel prices rising 3 cents to hit $3 per gallon Monday. 49 of the nation’s 50 states saw average prices higher versus last week, with the lone exception Delaware, which fell 0.7 cents.

“The seasonal surge at gas pumps is in full motion, causing the most dreaded time of year for fearful motorists, especially of what may still be coming,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “With the national average gas price now at its highest since July 26, 2015, I can’t immediately allay all fears of a continued spike in gas prices, however, we’re likely in the closing innings of the seasonal rise- let’s just hope we don’t go to extra innings. In the past few years, the average date that gas prices have peaked is mid-May, which is just around the corner, and by all metrics, that could be very close to what we expect this time around. Refinery maintenance has gone well thus far, and gasoline supply has continued to push higher as more refiners conclude their work. With the transition to summer gasoline also wrapping up, the reasons gas prices to rise will shrink.”

Crude oil prices surged last week, posting a $4 per barrel increase on the week as concerns mounted about trade tensions with China, the situation in Syria and robust demand eating into global supply. Oil ended the week at nearly $67 per barrel, the highest mark since December 2014.

Data released from the Energy Information Administration last week showed a 3.3 million barrel rise in crude oil inventories and a small 500,000 barrel rise in gasoline inventories as refiners increased inputs to 93.5% of capacity. All regions saw gasoline inventories decline, however, with the exception of the East Coast, which saw a large 3 million barrel rise. U.S. oil inventories still remain nearly 20 percent lower than a year ago as exports remain brisk and OPEC’s continued production cuts eat away the previous glut of crude oil. With refineries largely finished or finishing up with turnarounds, it is likely that refinery utilization remain above 90% with the coming start of the summer driving season. In addition, the transition to summer gasoline will be completed in the coming two weeks, as the EPA gives refiners until May 1 to produce only summer blends of gasoline.

Looking state-by-state, the largest weekly changes in average gas prices were seen in: Michigan (+12 cents), Utah (+9 cents), Idaho (+8 cents), Nebraska (+8 cents), Georgia (+7 cents), Illinois (+7 cents), West Virginia (+7 cents), Missouri (+7 cents), Texas (+7 cents) and Tennessee (+7 cents).

States with the lowest average gasoline prices: Missouri ($2.42), Oklahoma ($2.43), Arkansas ($2.43), Mississippi ($2.45), South Carolina ($2.46), Louisiana ($2.47), Kansas ($2.48), Texas ($2.48), Alabama ($2.49) and Wyoming ($2.50).

States with the highest average gasoline prices: California ($3.55), Hawaii ($3.48), Alaska ($3.22), Washington ($3.20), Nevada ($3.11), Oregon ($3.09), Utah ($2.97), Pennsylvania ($2.94), Idaho ($2.93) and New York ($2.80).

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