Pump prices to be most expensive since 2014

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This December motorists will not find significant holiday savings at the gas pump.

Today’s national gas price average is $2.51, which is 38 cents more than this time last year. While AAA does expect gas prices to decline between now and the end of the year, motorists will still pay the highest November and December gas prices since 2014.

“Despite a forecasted 5 to 20 cents decrease in coming weeks, motorists will see higher than expected December gas prices — especially compared to year-end prices from 2015 and 2016,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “Driving factors for cheaper gas prices this winter include colder temperatures, the threat of inclement weather and online shopping.”

In 2017, gas prices have strayed from typical trends. Historically, year-end gas prices tend to be relatively cheap due to a drop-off in fall gasoline demand around Labor Day and the move to cheaper to produce winter-blend gasoline in mid-September. This year, the typical factors that drive gas prices down in winter were outweighed by the impact of two major hurricanes, steady consumer demand and continued growth in gasoline exports.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), in the first half of 2017 U.S. exports of total motor gasoline averaged a record high of 756,000 b/d, a three percent increase from the first half of 2016. The second half of 2017 has seen this trend continue to climb, with exports peaking to one of their highest points in 2017 – 906,000 b/d – last month.

Many motorists in this region have seen sizeable price increases at the pump during November, as current gasoline inventories were sitting at their lowest inventory points for this time of year since 2014. The increases were likely due to a lack of gasoline imports that has contributed to tighter than usual supply in the region. However, pump prices in the last week have started to decline and will continue to drop, especially if imports move into the region.

There is a 44-cent price difference between the highest and lowest gas price average year-to-date in the region with Pennsylvania ($2.61) topping the charts and Tennessee ($2.17) rounding out the list. Only six states have the majority of gas stations selling gas for $2.50 or less: North Carolina (96 percent), Delaware (96 percent), Tennessee (94 percent), Virginia (94 percent), Maryland (71 percent) and New Hampshire (53 percent).
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