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Monday, March 21, 2016
ENP STAFF REPORTS
news@eastniagarapost.com


Lockport-area gas prices have gone up 2 cents to $1.924 a gallon, according to AAA East Central’s weekly Fuel Gauge report. The average price of self-serve regular unleaded gasoline last week, based on reports from 22 stations in the Lockport area, is $1.901. This time last year, gasoline was $2.494 in Lockport. The national average is $1.983.

Pump prices have climbed higher for two straight weeks, and the national average price of gas may soon climb above $2 per gallon for the first time this year. Gas prices have increased largely due to seasonal increases in fuel demand and reduced production as some refineries conduct maintenance.  Today’s average price of $1.98 per gallon is at the highest daily mark since January. Despite retail averages rising, consumers continue to benefit from yearly savings and prices remain 44 cents per gallon cheaper than a year ago.

Gas prices tend to reach the highest levels of the year in the spring before the summer driving season. As the weather turns warmer and days grow longer, people tend to drive more, which results in increased demand. Many families also take spring break road trips this time of year, which means they may use more gasoline than normal. This increase in demand comes at the same time that many refineries conduct maintenance to prepare equipment for the busy summer driving season, which leads to a temporary decline in fuel production. In addition, refineries also begin to transition to summer-blend gasoline, which is more expensive to produce, but mandated due to the fact that it is causes less air pollution at warmer temperatures. These factors typically lead to higher gas prices this time of year and have helped push prices higher in recent weeks.

For the first time in 13 weeks, the U.S. oil rig count increased, which raises the possibility of continued strong production in the United States despite relatively low crude oil prices. Both Brent and West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed last week with gains, but each benchmark moved lower on Friday as oversupply concerns again come into focus. Global oil prices are expected to continue to move in response to ongoing discussions by some of the world’s top producers to potentially freeze production, which could be finalized at a meeting scheduled for April 17. At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI was down 76 cents to settle at $39.44 per barrel.



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