Despite low demand, crude oil and gas prices will soon be more expensive than the highest price of 2020 – and with the price of crude consistently increasing, so have pump prices in the Carolinas.
“Crude oil accounts for more than 50% of the price at the pump,” said Tiffany Wright, spokesperson, AAA – The Auto Club Group in the Carolinas. “Crude has been the driving factor for increases at the pump this year, not demand – and we could possibly see 2021 crude oil prices top 2020 as early as this week.”
North Carolina’s gas price average currently sits at $2.35, seeing a 6-cent increase on the week. This is 12 cents more expensive than last month and 6 cents more expensive than a year ago. South Carolina’s gas price average currently sits at $2.28, also seeing a 6-cent increase on the week. This is 13 cents more expensive than last month and 10 cents more expensive than a year ago. Additionally, South Carolina still continues to be part of the nation’s top 10 least expensive markets.
Today’s national average is $2.51, which is just 7 cents less than the most expensive national gas price average in 2020.
Demand has averaged nearly 8 million b/d since January. The last time it measured below 8 million b/d during the first six weeks of the year was 2001.
Just how expensive gas will get this year is largely dependent on crude price and demand. The price of crude is still $10 – $12/bbl less than when the national average was last near $3 per gallon in 2018. In order for prices to be that expensive again this spring or summer, AAA believes that a major spike in demand, returning to normal peak driving season levels, and crude sustaining at very high prices will be required.
The rise in crude prices occurred after the Energy Information Administration’s weekly report revealed that total domestic crude inventories decreased by nearly 7 million bbl to 469 million bbl, while total refinery crude utilization increased slightly from 82% to 83% last week. If supplies continue to tighten, as utilization increases, crude prices could continue to climb this week. Moreover, frigid and icy weather in the Southwest has taken 2 million b/d of refining capacity offline and shuttered approximately 1 million b/d of crude production in the region. The closures are expected to put pressure on pump prices in the region and could send domestic crude prices higher this week.
For updated state and metro prices log on to https://gasprices.aaa.com