Fuel Gauge: Gas prices rose fraction of a penny this week
The Susquehanna Valley gas price average rose a fraction of a penny over the past week, remaining at $3.50 a gallon, according to AAA East Central. This is the third consecutive week at this price.
On the national front
Tuesday's national average price at the pump was $3.31 per gallon. This is three cents more expensive than one week ago, a fraction of a cent less than one month ago and 28 cents less than the same date last year.
In a departure from recent years, national gas prices have been largely flat to begin 2014. This can be attributed in part to cold temperatures keeping drivers off of roads, but also to the absence of the looming production concerns overseas or regional refinery issues that have propelled retail gasoline prices higher out of the gate the last several years.
In 2011, escalating violence in Egypt, and then Libya, spurred pump prices higher. In 2012, the catalyst was growing tensions with Iran. In both of these instances, global production concerns linked to geopolitical issues sent crude oil prices and ultimately gas prices higher.
In 2013, the early-year gas price increase was not a product of surging crude prices globally, but of production issues domestically. Regional refinery issues leading up to the seasonal switch over to summer-blend gasoline production raised domestic supply concerns and sent retail prices sharply higher.
Prices at the state level, like the national average, have been relatively flat to begin the year, and many states are reflecting lofty year-over-year discounts for motorists.
Crude oil prices had been relatively stable to begin the year. However, prices moved higher to end last week, settling just short of the $100 per barrel threshold Friday. Despite increasing just 18 cents on the day, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) settled at $100.06 per barrel Monday. This marks the first time since Oct. 18 that WTI has settled above the $100 threshold.
(AAA East Central - a not-for-profit association with 82 local offices in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, New York and Kentucky servicing 2.7 million members - provides Fuel Gauge each week.)