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Gas down this week despite demand flirting with all-time highs

Lee Herald Favicon 16Fuel prices remain steady this week, even as fuel demand is brushing up near all-time highs, the American Automobile Association reports.

The national average Monday was $2.25 a gallon, down a penny from last week though up four cents compared to this time in 2016.

In Florida, prices dropped slightly to $2.13 per gallon. The average in Naples Monday was $2.22 per gallon, while drivers in Lee are filling up for $2.08.

Prices had spent more than a month on the decline, before leveling off over the last few weeks. Analysts say the near-record demand – the U.S. Energy Information Administration said that drivers used nearly 10 million barrels of gasoline per day last week – is going to start driving prices upward in the near future.

“Gas prices could inch a little higher this week,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA’s The Auto Club Group. “Refineries are running on all cylinders, cutting into excess crude stocks. That helped push oil prices higher last week, which puts upward pressure on prices at the pump. The increase on the retail-side may only amount to as much as 5 cents by the end of the week.”

A supply glut has dominated discussion about fuel prices in recent years, as increased production in the U.S., and more recently in Libya and Nigeria, have driven the market. That glut was why OPEC set a production cut on member nations, trying to clear the surplus and drive prices higher.

Demand could be doing that job though, at least in the short-term. The EIA reported that crude supplies dropped below 500 million barrels for the first time since January.

Still, it’s not expected to have a major impact on the pump. EIA projections say the average fuel price for 2018 will be $2.33 per gallon, despite projecting an average domestic production of 9.9 million barrels per day of crude, which would be a record high. The agency forecasted the average fuel price for 2017 will run $2.32 per gallon.

“While this could be the start of a gradual uptick in gas prices, drivers are likely to continue saving at the pump compared to what they paid earlier this year,” Jenkins said.

NATION’S CHEAPEST

South Carolina, $1.97
Alabama, $1.97
Mississippi, $1.99
Arkansas, $2.01
Oklahoma, $2.01

NATION’S STEEPEST

Hawaii, $3.05
California, $2.91
Washington, $2.81
Alaska, $2.78
Oregon, $2.67


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