Gasoline prices are soaring to their highest levels in years as oil continues to become more expensive. Pain at the pump is expected to intensify for Americans this summer.
Fuel prices averaged $2.68 on Thursday, up 15 cents from a month ago and up 28 cents from a year ago, USA Today reported, citing AAA .
To be sure, industry analyst Trilby Lundberg earlier this week said the average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline shot up 8 cents a gallon over the past two weeks to $2.74, the highest level since 2015. the Associated Press reported.
On average, the price of fuel is the highest it has been in nearly 1,000 days, according to smartphone app GasBuddy, which allows consumers to see gas prices at nearby stations.
The highest average price in the contiguous 48 states was $3.63 in the San Francisco Bay area. The lowest was $2.37 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Lundberg reported.
Part of gasoline’s price increase as also been seasonal, as refiners tend to process less crude oil into fuel during maintenance and are starting to transition to summer-grade gasoline, which is more expensive to make, energy analysts told The Wall Street Journal.
The average American household is expected to pay about $200 more on gas in 2018 than in 2017, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected.
Consumer pain at the pump doesn't appear to be easing anytime soon.
It's "going to impact motorists' pocketbooks and wallets for spring and summer, with the hope of them coming down in fall and winter, as we’ve seen in years past," AAA spokesperson Jeanette Casselano told USA Today.
“This summer, in terms of average gas prices, will likely be the highest since 2014,” Patrick DeHaan, petroleum analyst at GasBuddy, a fuel-tracking app, recently told the Wall Street Journal. “There’s been very little question about that.”
DeHaan projected the national average would peak in the range of $2.75 to $2.80 sometime in mid-May, then slip to $2.55 to $2.75 for the rest of the summer, USA Today reported.
The EIA expects summer prices would average $2.74, the highest in four years and 26 cents more than last summer.
Meanwhile, oil prices steadied on Friday, heading for their largest weekly gain since July after U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments about possible military action in Syria and reports of dwindling global oil stocks.
In the oil patch Friday, recovering from earlier losses, Brent crude was up 28 cents at $72.30 a barrel early Friday and set for a weekly gain of almost 8 percent, or about $5.
U.S. crude for May delivery rose 28 cents to $67.35, up more than 8 percent, or about $5, for the week, Reuters explained.
“You have to put today’s moves in the context of the last three days. There hasn’t been any particular change today in terms of geopolitics or fundamental data,” said Harry Tchilinguirian of BNP Paribas.
Both oil benchmarks hit their highest since late 2014 on Wednesday after Trump warned that missiles “will be coming” in response to a suspected gas attack in Syria and after Saudi Arabia said it intercepted missiles over Riyadh.
Trump tweeted on Thursday that an attack on Syria “could be very soon or not so soon at all”, raising the prospect that an attack might not be as imminent as he seemed to suggest the previous day.
“As we start the last day of the week, we feel that the geopolitical risks are not as high as feared three days ago,” Petromatrix said in a note.
“The Syrian escalation risk cannot be fully written off, but we view that it deserves less of a premium than three days ago.”
A global oil stocks surplus is close to evaporating, OPEC said on Thursday, adding that its collective output fell to 31.96 million barrels per day (bpd) in March, down 201,000 bpd from February.
Vienna-based OPEC and its oil producer allies are poised to extend their supply reduction pact into 2019 even as the global glut of crude looks set to be eradicated by September, OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo told Reuters.
The International Energy Agency (IEA), which coordinates the energy policies of industrialized nations, signaled on Friday that markets could become too tight if supply remains restrained.
(Newsmax wire services contributed to this report).
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