At $2.49, the national gas price average is the most expensive seen at the start of a new year since 2014, when gas prices were more than $3/gallon.
High travel volumes over the holidays drove gas prices up five cents on the week. At the start of 2018, motorists in the Northeast, South and the upper Midwest are seeing pump prices as much as 13 cents more expensive than last one week ago.
“Although prices at the pump shot up over the holidays, now that the holiday season in the rearview mirror, motorists can expect gas prices to trend cheaper this month as we are likely to see a significant drop in gasoline demand,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson.
The latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) report measures gasoline demand at a strong 9.5 million b/d, which is typical of the holiday season. However, historical data shows that in early January demand typical drops and stays below the 9 million mark for the first few months of the year.
Gas prices in the West Coast remain among the highest in the country. On the week, California (+2 cents) and Oregon (+1 cent) saw the largest price increases, while Alaska (-2 cents), Hawaii (-1 cent) and Washington (-1 cent) saw the largest price decreases.
According to EIA’s latest weekly report, the region’s refinery crude utilization rate hit a new record high at 96.3 percent, which is the highest level since the mid-2010s and well above the 80 percent rate seen at this time last year. In addition, gasoline inventories continue to measure above 30 million bbl. for a third week, positioning the region with a comfortable supply level as the year begins.
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