PDT Staff Writer
Heading into the Memorial Day weekend, motorists in southern and south central Ohio can expect to see gasoline prices on the rise. In fact, area drivers will be paying 21 cents more per gallon this week as regionally prices jumped to an average of $3.82 per gallon. The average price during the week of May 14 was $3.61, and during the week of May 22, the average price in the region was $3.68.
The only bright spot is that Portsmouth has one of the lowest averages in the area at $3.77 per gallon. Ironton is at $3.85, Waverly, Jackson and Chillicothe are at $3.86.
The national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.654. This price is seven cents more expensive than one week ago and 14 cents more than one month ago.
While the average American motorist has enjoyed a less expensive year-over-year pump price for 79 consecutive days, the savings have narrowed to just four cents per gallon, down substantially from the peak year-to-date discount of 39 cents on April 18. With the national average rising steadily, compared to a year ago when prices were tumbling, it is likely that the average will once again rise above year-ago levels in the coming days and may be more expensive than last year for the approaching Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Higher crude oil prices may be the reason that drivers in every state are paying more for gasoline than two weeks ago, but tight regional supplies and refinery maintenance – both planned and unplanned – are the reason for the dramatically higher pump prices in the Midwest and West Coast.
Rising Midwest prices slowed over the weekend from their recent breakneck pace, but motorists are not out of the woods yet as regional supplies remain low and heavy storms continue to be forecasted across the region. No refinery disruptions have been reported as a result of the storms, but the potential remains for additional refinery issues in the already supply-strapped region.
With much of the focus on volatile regional gasoline markets, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices have continued to drift higher in recent weeks. At the close of Monday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI settled up 69 cents at $96.71 per barrel. This is the highest settlement price for WTI in more than six weeks.
An AAA survey of intended travelers found that gasoline prices would have no impact on plans for 62 percent of travelers. Of the remaining 38 percent of travelers who said gas prices would impact their travel plans, 27 percent plan to economize in other areas. Eight percent are planning to take a shorter trip and three percent will travel by an alternate mode of transportation. Since national gas prices peaked at the end of February, motorists nationwide have felt welcome relief at the pump.
More than 2.3 million leisure air travelers (more than seven percent of holiday travelers) will arrive at their destination by air, an eight percent decrease from last year’s 2.5 million air travelers. The remaining four percent of holiday travelers are expected to travel by other modes, including rail, bus and watercraft.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.