March 03, 2014
According to AAA, nationwide gas prices rose approximately 17 cents (five percent) during the month of February, marking the largest monthly increase since July of 2013. However, even with that increase, today’s national average of $3.46 for self-serve regular unleaded is 29 cents below what it was on this date 12 months ago.
The statewide average for Indiana is currently $3.61; 17 cents less than one year ago.
“Strong winter storms and weak demand have helped keep gas prices less expensive this winter,” said Greg Seiter, public affairs manager for AAA Hoosier Motor Club.
The national average has increased for 23 days in a row now, which is the longest consecutive streak since last February.
“Gas prices typically rise this time of year because many refineries temporarily cut production during the month of February in order to conduct seasonal maintenance before the industry transition to summer blends,” Seiter said. “That production cut can limit gas supplies in some areas and cause market uncertainty.”
Gas prices in 2013 reached a peak of $3.79 per gallon Feb. 27, which was the earliest yearly high mark on record. According to industry experts, this year’s severe winter storms and a later-than-normal refinery maintenance schedule is expected to result in peak prices during March or April.
Other Interesting Notes…
- Gas prices averaged $3.34 per gallon in February, which was the cheapest monthly national average since 2011. By comparison, prices nationally averaged $3.65 in Feb. 2013, $3.55 in Feb. 2012 and $3.17 in Feb. 2011.
- The price of domestic West Texas Intermediate crude oil increased about $5.00 per barrel last month. Crude oil represents about two-thirds of the cost of gasoline, and producers generally pass along increased oil costs to consumers in the form of higher gas prices.
- AAA expects gas prices this year to be less expensive than in 2013 due to the fact that many refineries have increased capacity to take advantage of the recent boom in North American crude oil production. The most recent data from the Energy Information Administration shows U.S. gasoline supplies at 230.6 million barrels, which is above the five-year average for this time of year.
- Gas prices in March may also rise because of the industry transition to summer-blend gasoline. While this process can take place at different times of the year depending on local regulations, the majority of refineries and pipelines must switch by April 1. Summer-blend gasoline is less likely to evaporate and cause warm-weather air pollution such as smog, but it can increase costs by 5-15 cents per gallon.
- Gas prices on average decreased 15 cents per gallon in March 2013, but this was unusual and due to an early peak in prices. Gas prices in March have increased four out of the previous five years at an average of 11 cents per gallon.
- In 2012 the national average increased 56 cents per gallon over a 70-day period before peaking at $3.94 per gallon on April 5. In 2011 the national average increased 89 cents per gallon during a 94-day timeframe before topping out at $3.98 per gallon on May 5.
AAA updates fuel price averages daily at www.FuelGaugeReport.AAA.com [AAA.com]. Every day up to 120,000 stations are surveyed based on credit card swipes and direct feeds in cooperation with the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) and Wright Express for unmatched statistical reliability. All average retail prices in this report are for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline.