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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lockport area gas prices rose a fraction of a cent this week, 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 $2.459, up from $2.455 last week and $3.614 this time last year.

The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has increased every day since January 27 for a total of 22 cents per gallon over 22 days. Gas prices have increased sharply due to more expensive crude oil costs and the start of refinery maintenance season. Gas prices typically increase this time of year as refineries conduct maintenance, which can limit fuel production. Rising crude oil costs have also made it more expensive for refineries to produce gasoline, which has contributed to higher pump prices.

Even with the national average trending higher, ample gasoline supplies and lower crude oil costs than in recent years should prevent prices from rising as high as in recent memory. In addition, severe cold weather, particularly in the Northeast and Midwestern United States, may limit driving and gasoline demand in the near term.  Barring any major disruptions in supply, AAA anticipates drivers will continue to pay below $3 per gallon throughout 2015.

OPEC’s decision not to act as a market-stabilizer is beginning impact global energy development, as companies in countries with more expensive production costs have reportedly begun curtailing investments and employment. The global price of Brent crude rallied this past week and closed above the $60 per barrel benchmark for the first time in 2015. This represents an increase of more than 30 percent since mid-January and is reflective of the global oil market’s overall volatility. At the close of Friday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, domestic West Texas Intermediate crude settled at $52.78 per barrel, up $1.57 on the day.

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