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National Average Sees Fourth Straight Weekly Rise


For the fourth straight week, the national average price of gasoline has moved higher over the previous week, rising 3.6 cents to $2.29 per gallon this morning. While the national average has not seen a daily drop since November 28, nearly a month ago, it’s possible that this week will see some leveling off as crude oil prices remain little changed in recent weeks.

Looking at the gasoline price climate across the nation, 46 of the nation’s 50 states saw gasoline prices rise last week, by an average of 3.6 cents per gallon. Just three states saw gasoline prices decline: Arizona, Florida and Georgia, while Utah is currently seeing the same price as a week ago. Seeing the largest increases were states in the Great Lakes: Wisconsin saw a hike of 12 cents on average, while Illinois and Ohio rose 9 cents and both Minnesota and North Dakota seeing an 8-cent rise.

West Texas Intermedia crude oil held for much of the last week in the $51-$53 per barrel range, while rising close to $54 per barrel this morning. Oil prices have remained above $50 for the last month largely due to the anticipated drop in OPEC production slated to start January 1. OPEC had pushed for cuts to oil production as the two-year era of low oil prices have pushed many OPEC members to economic slowdowns. Oil prices have now more than doubled since February of this year, from $25 to $54, and gasoline prices have followed higher.

Motorists hoping for last winter’s cheap gasoline are likely to be sorely disappointed this winter as sub-$2 per gallon prices will be far less common. Already today, just 9% of the nation’s gas stations are selling for $2 or less, while just a year ago over 70% of stations were at or under $2. The national average also stands nearly 30 cents per gallon higher than a year ago. Zero states now have average gasoline prices under $2 per gallon, while just six major cities can still boast an average of $1.99 or less: Rock Hill, SC, Aiken, SC, Casper, WY, Greenville, SC, Lubbock, TX and Spartanburg, SC.

Comparing state averages to a year ago, just two states have prices cheaper today: California (14 cents) and Nevada (11 cents). On the opposite end, New Jersey leads the nation with prices that average 52 cents per gallon higher today than a year ago, followed by Ohio (48 cents), Michigan (47 cents), Indiana (44 cents) and Kentucky (42 cents).

While it’s highly unlikely we’ll see the low gas prices of last winter repeat again, it is likely that gas prices will soon hit a short-term peak before declining in mid-January in many areas of the country. A decline is likely as refiners begin offering winter-grade gasolines at low prices to draw down on supplies before doing maintenance and beginning the long transition to cleaner summer blends of gasoline.

Head of Petroleum Analysis (USA)

Patrick has developed into the leading source for reliable and accurate information on gas price hikes. Patrick has been interviewed as a gasoline price expert hundreds of times since 2004. Based in Chicago, Patrick brings to GasBuddy all his assets to help consumers by giving reliable and accurate price forecasts, including the San Jose Mercury News dubbing Patrick "one of the nation's most accurate forecasters" in 2012.