BOSTON -- Retail gasoline prices have hit their highest point since June.
In the past week, gas prices rose in 46 states to hit a national average of $2.35 per gallon, according to GasBuddy. This is the highest average in more than eight weeks. Oil prices provided the upward pressure, driven higher as inventories tighten over concerns about instability in Venezuela, which provides about 10% of U.S. oil imports. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported last week that crude inventories fell 1.5 million barrels, reaching their lowest point since December 2016. Gasoline inventories fell 4.4% below their level a year ago.
However, Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for Boston-based GasBuddy, noted that gas prices have stayed within a “relatively tight” 30-cent range for the past year. “While we're likely to see gas prices continuing to move higher in the week ahead as they catch up to oil, we're unlikely to break out of the well-established rut in the national average, which has kept prices between $2.12 and $2.42 for the last 15 months,” he said.
The largest weekly increases in retail gasoline averages were in South Carolina, Iowa, New Jersey and Georgia, all up 7 cents per gallon (CPG). Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico and Virginia followed, all with 6-CPG increases.
The lowest state retail averages for gasoline are mainly in the Southeast, with Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina each at $2.09 per gallon, followed by Arkansas and Missouri at $2.11.
GasBuddy expects gasoline prices to rise in most regions in the coming week, led by the Great Lakes states, where an increase may raise the national retail average by 2 to 3 CPG.