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Monday, February 23, 2015

Lockport-area gas prices increased by 1 cent, according to AAA East Central’s weekly Fuel Gauge report. The average price of self-serve regular unleaded gasoline, based on reports from 22 stations in the Lockport area, was $2.469, up from $2.459 last week and $3.670 this time last year.

The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has increased for 28 consecutive days for a total of 27 cents per gallon, which is the longest streak of rising prices since last spring. The year-over-year discount at the pump has narrowed in recent weeks but remains lofty by historic standards.

Refineries are in the midst of conducting seasonal maintenance, a process that can limit fuel production and contribute to rising pump prices. In addition, there remains the potential for unexpected refinery problems to further impact production and cause temporary prices spikes in various regions. Last week an explosion at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance helped push up prices in California, while bitterly cold weather in the Northeast and Midwest led to a number of refinery problems in those areas. Ample domestic supply is expected to keep a ceiling on prices, though there is a good chance that prices will continue to rise this spring.

Global crude oil prices remain volatile, with markets continuing to seesaw and West Texas Intermediate crude oil last week posting its first weekly loss in a month. The balance between global supply and demand continues to weigh on prices, and despite U.S. production companies reassessing plans for exploration and production amid shrinking profit margins, domestic crude oil inventories climbed to record levels and output rose to its highest level since 1973, according to a Department of Energy report released last week.

West Texas Intermediate closed last week at its lowest level since February 11, settling down 82 cents at $50.34 per barrel at the close of Friday’s formal trading on the NYMEX.

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