AAA FUEL GAUGE: Gasoline prices jump almost 15 cents a gallon in West Virginia

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AAA FUEL GAUGE: Gasoline prices jump almost 15 cents a gallon in West Virginia

Gas prices soared again in West Virginia. This week’s increase was 14.9 cents per gallon, bringing the average price for a gallon of self-serve, regular unleaded gasoline to $3.547.

According to AAA’s Fuel Gauge, Monday marked new multi-year highs for both crude oil and gasoline prices as violence continues in Libya and worry remains surrounding instability in the larger region.  Crude prices broke through the $100 barrier last week and Monday, for the first time since October 2008, oil began a week trading above $100 per barrel, settling up $1.02 at $105.44.  This marks a more than $8 per barrel week-on-week increase and a new 2011 high.

Last week both began and ended with the focus squarely on Northern Africa and the Middle East, most notably Libya.  Libya produces 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil—two percent of global oil consumption—making it is the world’s 17th-largest crude producer and Africa’s third-largest, while holding the continent’s largest crude oil reserves.  Analysts have estimated that the conflict has cut current production by one million bpd, and while Saudi Arabia has pledged to cover any supply gap, prices have raced higher on fears of the spread of unrest to other oil-producing countries in the region. 

While events to date have produced little actual disruption to supply, we have nonetheless seen a more than $20 per barrel (nearly 25 percent) increase in crude prices since mid-February.  Both domestic crude and gasoline stocks are high, and demand has not seen an appreciable change during this period.  Market analysts instead point to concerns that the unrest may spread in Northern Africa and the Middle East, impacting supply in the future, as the reason for higher prices.

Calls have begun to grow for President Obama to combat high fuel prices by tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).  The SPR is an emergency stockpile of 726.6 million barrels of crude oil that the United States has on hand to protect the country from petroleum supply interruptions.  This has been used twice for emergency situations, the first in 1991 at the beginning of Desert Storm and the second in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina. 

While there have been increasing calls for Obama to tap the SPR with the intention of lowering the high fuel prices that some analysts worry will stall our current economic recovery, other experts question the impact that this move would have.  These experts note the SPR is a tool designed and suited to address an energy supply interruption, but as discussed above, the current situation leaves no supply domestic shortage for a SPR drawdown to fill.

The run-up in crude prices last week was again mirrored by the price that drivers paid for gasoline at the pump.  The current national retail average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline is $3.517, up 14.2cents from a week ago, 39.3 cents from a month ago, and 76.4 cents from a year ago.



This week’s average prices: West Virginia Average                                                 $3.547

Average price during the week of March 1, 2011                                                       $3.398

Average price during the week of March 9, 2010                                                      $2.797


The following is a list of the average price of unleaded self-serve gasoline in various areas:

 

$3.558

Bridgeport

$3.554

Clarksburg

$3.554

Huntington

$3.618

Martinsburg

$3.555

Morgantown

$3.513

Parkersburg

$3.508

Weirton

$3.517

Wheeling


AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 80 local offices in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, New York and Kentucky servicing 2.5 million members.

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