Gas prices continue to reach highs not seen since 2015, as higher oil prices and record fuel demand squeeze drivers at the pump.
On Monday, the average fuel price in Naples jumped by nine cents over the past week to $2.75 per gallon, while drivers in Lee County have seen a jump of 13 cents to $2.70 per gallon. Statewide, gas prices are up 11 cents in the last week, and nearly 30 cents compared to this time in 2017.
Analysts say the hikes are due to crude oil prices – approaching $70 per barrel – and record fuel demand in April, which combine to see the prices at the pump reach their highest point since July 2015. The average Floridian driver is paying $5 more to fill up their tank this year compared to last year.
“Gas price increases gripped 49 of the nation’s 50 states again last week as oil prices continued their upward move to new multi-year highs. In addition, government data highlighted a new record for gasoline demand was breached last week, and we’re not even into the summer driving season yet. The road ahead at the pump looks quite ominous if that demand number proves common in the coming weeks,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.
In the latest data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, fuel demand in the United States reached 9.85 million barrels per day, a record in April. It’s making ongoing production cuts by OPEC and non-member nations such as Russia start to have a larger impact on oil prices.
Domestic drilling is blunting some of the effects, oil industry analysts Baker Hughes report that 120 more drilling rigs in the U.S. are online compared to this time in 2017, and President Donald Trump has also turned his Twitter account toward the cartel’s attempt to drive the market.
“Looks like OPEC is at it again. With record amounts of Oil all over the place, including the fully loaded ships at sea, Oil prices are artificially Very High! No good and will not be accepted!” Trump tweeted on Friday.
But there is at least some optimism that the upward trend will reach an end soon. The American Automobile Association has said throughout the year that they don’t expect to see the national average reach over $3 per gallon. Though they warn that drivers should still expect to pay more to drive on any summer trips this year.
“If we haven’t already, gas prices will hit their annual peak within the next couple weeks,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesperson for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “However, unforeseen circumstances like escalating geopolitical tensions or a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico would cause prices to surge. Unfortunately, oil prices could still remain elevated heading into the summer travel season. Which means, travelers will likely find the most expensive summer gas prices in four years.”
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