Gas prices continue to rise, hitting the highest levels for this date since 2014.
The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $2.74 per gallon, which is five cents more than last week, 28 cents more than a month ago, and eight cents more than a year ago. The North Dakota average is currently 12 cents lower at $2.62. That average is four cents higher than last week, 12 cents higher than a month ago and 4 cents more than a year ago, according to AAA.
Refinery maintenance season has hit some unexpected bumps in the road, contributing to higher pump prices. According to data released from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), total domestic refinery utilization fell to 86.4 percent last week. At this time last year, EIA measured total refinery utilization at 93 percent. The year-over-year difference underscores the impact of unplanned refinery maintenance on markets across the country. Until refineries return to normal operations, which will take a few weeks, American motorists should expect pump prices to continue increasing as gasoline demand gains steam, says AAA.
Also applying pressure on pump prices is the higher cost of crude oil – up 40 percent since the beginning of the year. Starting the year near $45 per barrel, the benchmark crude (WTI) is currently trading above $63. Each one-dollar change in the price of crude equals about a 2.4 cent change in the cost for a gallon of gas.