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AAA FUEL GAUGE: Gasoline Prices Unchanged in West Virginia

West Virginia gas prices remain stable this week with the average price for a gallon of self-serve, regular unleaded gasoline currently $3.152 at the pump.

According to AAA’s Fuel Gauge, crude trading was very light Monday, due to the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. With the NYMEX closed for the Federal holiday, there was no formal trading session for the day; however crude oil prices were trading down 52 cents on the electronic market at $91.02.

The big news to begin last week was the shutdown of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. While this sent some initial jitters through the market, by Tuesday it received little attention as the line was quickly and correctly assessed as likely to be back up and running by the weekend. Market watchers instead turned their attention to what is continuing to be the coldest northern hemisphere winter in three decades and larger economic trends. While snowy conditions have kept drivers off the road—subsequently limiting demand for gasoline—the same cold weather has significantly driven up demand and prices for heating oil. While the demand for gasoline refined from crude oil may be down, increased demand for heating oil as a refined crude product have more than taken up the slack, placing upward pressure on the price of crude itself. Analysts have speculated that it may be difficult for crude prices to ease until these cold temperatures thaw.

Slightly bearish economic reports Thursday morning saw the U.S. dollar weaken and crude prices edge slightly higher. When the dollar weakens, investors, including those holding foreign currencies, are more likely to invest in commodities, including crude, which puts upward pressure on prices. This upward pressure was offset by the restart of the Alaska pipeline removing some uncertainly from the market and the perception of fading Asian demand for oil. The majority of global oil demand growth over the next several decades is projected to be driven by Asia, with more than half of that growth coming from China alone.

As of Tuesday, Jan. 18, the current national retail average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline is $3.100. This marks an increase of only 1.1 cents from a week ago but up 36 cents from this time last year.

This week’s average prices: West Virginia Average                       $3.152

Average price during the week of January 11, 2011                      $3.151

Average price during the week of January 19, 2010                      $2.798

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