CHARLOTTE, NC — Will North Carolina drivers pay $3 per gallon of gasoline by the summer travel season? Demand for gasoline hit its highest level ever in April, and it is likely the price will creep up even higher over the weekend and may continue to climb, says AAA Carolinas.
Overnight the national gas price average reached the highest price for unleaded regular gasoline since June 13-20, 2015, hitting $2.80 per gallon.
Across the United States, pump prices are 40 cents higher than one year ago today. The days of cheaper gas prices have ended for the time being, or so it seems, says the agency. Pump prices may potentially increase by 5 to 10 cents through Memorial Day, predicts AAA. However, the auto club does not expect the national average to hit $3 per gallon this year. Gas prices are expected to stabilize this summer, but if demand spikes further, prices are likely to follow.
"Demand is exceptionally high for this time of year at the pumps – the highest ever seen for the month of April," said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson. "While we hope we won’t hit the $3 mark, we continue to see prices go up each week and we haven’t even started the summer driving season yet."
From coast to coast, consumers are taking heed of the uptick in the cost of self-serve regular gasoline. That is especially true of consumers in California, as well as customers in Pennsylvania on the East Coast, where the state average hit $3 per gallon "thanks to its high state gasoline tax," reports the OPIS Retail Fuel Watch. Seven U.S. states – all in the west- have retail gasoline prices that are now averaging more than $3 a gallon.
The average cost to fill a vehicle with a 15-gallon tank in North Carolina, is $40.38, compared to $34.24 a year earlier.
Current, Past Gas Price Averages
LocationToday1 Year AgoCharlotte, NC$2.67 $2.26 Durham-Chapel Hill$2.70 $2.29 Asheville, NC$2.72 $2.33 Raleigh, NC$2.71 $2.28
For all of 2018 the Energy Information Administration expects U.S. regular gasoline retail prices to average $2.64 a gallon and gasoline retail prices for all grades to average $2.76 per gallon, which would result in the average U.S. household spending about $190 (9%) more on motor fuel in 2018 compared with 2017.
Customers everywhere are coping with rising gasoline prices as demand surges. The EIA latest data register consumer gasoline demand at 9.857 million barrels a day, the highest level ever on record for the month of April and exceeds typical summer demand measurements. Of recent, U.S. gasoline demand "accounts for 10 percent of global consumption."
Hiccups, such as recent refinery snags, along with planned seasonal maintenance, have also caused pump prices to increase. Geopolitics will play a factor in just how high gas prices climb this summer, namely whether the United States withdraws from the Iran nuclear deal on the self-imposed May 12 deadline, which could curb the amount of oil Iran "could export by approximately 1 million barrels daily," says AAA. "This scenario, some investors fear, could potentially send "the price of crude higher in the summer months."
AAA helps members save on the price of gas with tools to help you find the lowest gas prices in your area. To find the cheapest gasoline prices around, or prices at individual gas stations, go to the AAA Fuel Finder.
Patch Editor Deb Belt contributed
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