Oil prices are continuing to drive unseasonably stubborn January fuel prices, the American Automobile Association says.
January gas prices are at their highest point in four years, with the average fill-up on Monday in Naples was $2.58 per gallon, up a dime in the last week, while in Lee County the average fill-up rose 11 cents in the last week to hit $2.53. The average statewide rose nine cents to $2.54, matching the national average.
“It has been anything but a normal January for prices at the pump,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Normally, demand slips and supplies build. However, this story so far this year has been a rally in oil prices.
“Oil prices strung together three weeks of significant gains, raising the cost of producing gasoline,” Jenkins continued. “As a result, gas prices for the month of January have been the most expensive in four years. Fortunately, prices at the pump plateaued late last week, after the momentum for oil stalled out. While gas prices will continue to be steered by the price of oil, they will soon face additional pressure from refinery maintenance season. During the next few months, refineries will reduce output as they conduct maintenance on their equipment and switch to summer-blend gasoline. This usually leads to tighter supplies and forces gas prices higher. However, there is still lingering hope that U.S. oil production will ramp-up sooner than later, which would boost inventories and push energy prices lower.”
Oil prices have risen steadily in recent weeks despite increasing oil production, with oil hovering in the $63 range. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, domestic production rose to 9.75 million barrels per day, up by 258,000 barrels. Some oil producers, led by OPEC, have been trying to cut production to drive the market upward, but domestic production have appeared to been stalling momentum.
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