Higher temperatures with higher gas prices

Published 9:41 pm Friday, March 2, 2018

Portsmouth resident Jeremy Oliver commutes about 30 minutes to Suffolk for work at C-FIT Studio downtown. Oliver said he recently bought a new vehicle that gets more miles per gallon than his previous ride, a smart move given rising gas prices.

“They’re definitely going up, and I’ve got to use premium in my vehicle, so it’s an even bigger hit,” he said.

Virginia drivers should prepare to pay more to fill up their gas tanks this spring, according to AAA Tidewater Virginia.

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Virginia’s average gas price as of Feb. 28 was $2.35 per gallon, according to a Thursday press release. That’s 7 cents less than the price of a gallon in the previous month and 24 cents more when compared to the same time last year.

The current average price in Hampton Roads is $2.29 per gallon, which — like the state statistics — is a 10-cent drop in price compared to last month, but a 24-cent increase compared to one year ago, according to the press release.

AAA forecasts the national gas price average will be as much as $2.70 per gallon this spring, a staggering price Americans haven’t seen since summer 2015.

“There is currently tremendous volatility in the oil and gasoline market,” AAA Tidewater Virginia spokesperson Georjeane Blumling stated in the press release. “Crude oil is selling at high prices compared to previous years, and domestic gasoline demand has been high most of the winter, among the factors all driving gas prices up and draining consumers’ wallets.

The crude oil market has been on a volatile ride since West Texas Intermediate crude prices hit a closing high of $60 per barrel in late December, then up to $70 per barrel in 2018, per the press release. This caused gas prices to rise in the winter.

Motorists should expect to see gas prices spike in early April, according to Blumling, when refineries finish maintenance and switch over to more expensive, summer-blend gas combined with the typical demand increases that come with warmer temperatures.

“Consumers can expect prices to likely increase throughout April, May and into the start of summer,” Blumling stated. AAA expects summer gas prices to be as expensive as spring prices, but likely not to rise at such a quick rate.

As of Friday, AAA recorded that the average price for a gallon was about $2.35 in Virginia, and Suffolk’s average was recorded to be about $2.26. Gasbuddy.com recorded prices as low as $2.14 per gallon to as high as $2.35 across the city.

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

“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,” Blumling stated.