Gas Prices Steady, May Rise In February

By Jim McCoy Tue 28th January NewsAAAgas prices
“Retail gas prices are fairly flat in many markets this week. The national average for regular unleaded holds steady at $3.28 a gallon while the Oregon average slips half a cent to $3.29.” AAA Oregon/Idaho Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds says, “The national average has moved slightly lower in January, but pump prices at the state level are a mixed bag. Oregon is one of 29 states where prices have decreased since January 1.” After rising to $3.33 on January 3 – a two-month high – the national average has now declined for 19 of 24 days. Oregon drivers are paying about a nickel less per gallon since the start of the year, while drivers in four states (Michigan, Delaware, Indiana and Ohio are paying at least a dime less per gallon than a month ago. In southern Oregon, the average for unleaded regular is $3.37. There is at least one report of gas priced at $3.27. This contrasts to the 21 states where prices have increased since the start of 2014, led by Minnesota, Arizona and Hawaii where drivers have seen gas prices jump by as much as nine cents. Both the national and Oregon averages are slightly lower than they were on this date in 2013, when the national average was $3.35 and Oregon’s was $3.33. While retail prices have fallen slightly to begin the year, AAA says there is a good chance that prices will rise in February. This is the time of year that refineries begin to reduce production to conduct seasonal maintenance, which can limit gasoline supplies and cause market uncertainty, sending pump prices higher. Crude oil prices have been relatively flat to begin the year. At Monday’s close of formal trading on the NYMEX, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil settled at $95.72, just 28 cents per barrel above where it began 2014. As a result gasoline prices have been largely left to take direction from regional and local factors. This has resulted in prices, particularly in the center of the country, that have been influenced by extremely cold weather. Frigid temperatures can cause refinery issues that pressure prices higher but can also decrease demand for gasoline, as motorists limit driving, which puts downward pressure on prices. Today WTI has moved higher, trading around $97 per barrel. Crude prices are down about two percent in the last month

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