MANCHESTER, NH — They’re up. They’re down. They’re up again.
Just like a really big roller coaster ride, pump prices have climbed higher for two straight weeks, and the national average price of gas may soon climb above $2 per gallon for the first time this year. Gas prices have increased largely due to seasonal increases in fuel demand and reduced production as some refineries conduct maintenance.
The average price as of March 24 of $1.98 per gallon is a the highest daily mark since January, and drivers are paying a nickel more per gallon than a week ago and 27 cents more per than a month ago. Despite retail averages rising, consumers continue to benefit from yearly savings and prices remain 44 cents per gallon cheaper than a year ago.
Here is a look at local gas prices;
- New Hampshire’s current price is $1.86 per gallon, which is five cents higher than one week ago and 49 cents lower than one year ago.
- Vermont’s current price is $1.96 per gallon, which is two cents more than one week ago, and 54 cents lower than one year ago.
- Maine’s current price is $1.96 per gallon, which is five cents higher than one week ago and 44 cents lower than one year ago.
- Massachusetts current price is $1.89 per gallon, which is five cents higher than one week ago and 49 cents lower than one year ago
Gas prices tend to reach the highest levels of the year in the spring before the summer driving season. As the weather turns warmer and days grow longer, people tend to drive more, which results in increased demand. Many families also take spring break road trips this time of year, which means they may use more gasoline than normal.
This increase in demand comes at the same time that many refineries conduct maintenance to prepare equipment for the busy summer driving season, which leads to a temporary decline in fuel production. In addition, refineries also begin to transition to summer-blend gasoline, which is more expensive to produce, but mandated due to the fact that it is causes less air pollution at warmer temperatures. These factors typically lead to higher gas prices this time of year and have helped push prices higher in recent weeks.
For the second consecutive week, California ($2.68) leads the nation with the highest average price for retail gasoline. Consumers in the Golden State are paying 13 cents per gallon more than second-place Hawaii ($2.55), and gas prices could move higher in the near term due to refinery issues. Nevada ($2.32), Washington ($2.24) and Alaska ($2.22) round out the top five most expensive markets. The nation’s least expensive market for retail gasoline is New Jersey ($1.73), which is also the only state with an average price below $1.75 per gallon.
For the first time in 13 weeks, the U.S. oil rig count increased, which raises the possibility of continued strong production in the United States despite relatively low crude oil prices. Both Brent and West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed last week with gains, but each benchmark moved lower on Friday as oversupply concerns again come into focus. Global oil prices are expected to continue to move in response to ongoing discussions by some of the world’s top producers to potentially freeze production, which could be finalized at a meeting scheduled for April 17.
The U.S. dollar is also in focus after posting its largest two-day loss in value since 2009. All eyes are on the Federal Reserve to see if corrective action is taken to help boost its value. A weaker dollar makes oil relatively less expensive for investors holding other currencies, which could help offset some of the market’s losses.
At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI was down 76 cents to settle at $39.44 per barrel.
Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobil.
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