Christine Delise
Sr. Public Relations Specialist, MD
O: (410) 616-1900 (ext. 4361153)
C: (443) 244-7253
cdelise@aaamidatlantic.com

For the first quarter of the year, gas prices have been expensive. On average, motorists nationwide are paying nearly 25 cents per gallon more than this time last year. While pump prices have dipped in recent weeks, this is not a trend consumers should expect to linger.

 

AAA forecasts the national gas price average will rise as much as $2.70/gallon this spring – a costly pump price Americans have not paid since summer of 2015 when prices hit $2.81.  Maryland’s average cost is expected to spike as well, but to a price that is anticipated to be several cents lower than the national average.  The statewide average typically trends lower against the national average price at the pump.

 

“There is tremendous volatility in the oil and gasoline markets. Crude oil is selling at higher prices compared to previous years and domestic gasoline demand has been high most of the winter. These are among the factors driving gas prices up and draining consumers’ wallets,” said Ragina Cooper Averella, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “This spring, consumers may have to make decisions on where they can cut costs to cover gas prices that are potentially 40-cents more per gallon.”

 

A new AAA survey found the vast majority of motorists would change their driving habits or lifestyle to offset higher gas prices. One in four say they would start making changes at $2.75, while 40 percent say $3.00 is their tipping point. Changes consumers said they would make include combining errands or trips (79 percent), driving less (73 percent), reducing shopping or dining out (61 percent), delaying major purchases (50 percent) and driving more fuel-efficient vehicles (46 percent).

 

AAA does not expect the national gas price to be reminiscent of 2011-2014, when motorists were paying on average $3.47 per gallon. While some states, like California, may see $4.00 per gallon, it will be temporary.

 

“Motorists will start to see gas prices make their spring spike in early April. That is when refinery maintenance is expected to be wrapped-up and the switchover to more expensive summer-blend gasoline kicks in along with warmer weather and typical demand increases,” added Averella. “Prices are likely to increase throughout April, May and into the start of summer.”

 

Fuel Savings Tips for Consumers

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s American Driving Survey, on average Americans drive 32 miles a day and spend 51 minutes behind the wheel. AAA offers a few ways to conserve fuel:

  • Slow down. The faster you drive the more fuel you use. Every 5 mph over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.18 per gallon, according to the Department of Energy.

  • Share work or school rides by carpooling or consider public transportation.

  • Do not use your trunk for storage. The heavier your car, the more fuel it uses.

  • Combine errands. If possible, park in a central spot and walk from place to place.   

Summer Look Ahead

AAA expects summer gas prices to be just as expensive as spring prices, but with the potential that they may not increase at such a quick rate. Heading into summer, a variety of factors including U.S. gasoline supply-demand levels, domestic gasoline production rates, and global crude demand will help better shape the summer forecast.

 

Oil Market Dynamics Overview

Since December, the crude oil market has been on a volatile ride. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude prices hit a closing high of $60 per barrel in late December and continued to climb into 2018 up to $70 per barrel, translating into expensive gas prices this winter. However, when the financial markets began to fluctuate in February, oil prices took a hit and have been mostly trending cheaper – between $59 and $62 per barrel – and gas prices are following suit.  Yesterday, February 28, WTI crude oil closed at $61.64 per barrel, down $1.37 from the previous day’s close.

 

As crude prices bounce around, U.S. crude production continues to soar. Production growth has been fueled by a sharp increase in the number of active oil rigs in the U.S., which currently total 799. That figure is 197 more rigs than last year’s count at this time.

 

Similar to the year-end crude price spike, the production trend started at the end of 2017 when U.S. crude production hit 10 million barrels per day (b/d) for the first time since November 1970. This move surprised most market analysts who did not expect the record to be broken last year. Since January, domestic crude production rates have steadily grown. In fact, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), all U.S. crude production in February 2018 has remained above 10 million b/d, and the rate is likely to continue its ascent.

 

CURRENT AND PAST GAS PRICE AVERAGES 

Regular Unleaded Gasoline

 

3/1/18

Week Ago

Month Ago

Year Ago

National

$2.54

$2.53

$2.60

$2.31

Maryland

$2.50

$2.51

$2.26

$2.29

Annapolis

$2.46

$2.46

$2.58

$2.26

Baltimore

$2.47

$2.48

$2.60

$2.27

Cumberland

$2.65

$2.65

$2.67

$2.41

Frederick

$2.50

$2.48

$2.61

$2.27

Hagerstown

$2.62

$2.55

$2.67

$2.34

Salisbury

$2.38

$2.40

$2.56

$2.21

Washington Suburbs

(MD only)

$2.59

$2.58

$2.66

$2.35

 

 

Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad, and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, book a hotel, and for AAA members, find discounts and access roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile

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Mailing Address:
8600 LaSalle Road, Ste 639
Towson, MD 21286

AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and more than 937,000 members in Maryland.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android.  For more information, visit AAA.com.

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