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Monday, April 11, 2016

Lockport-area gas prices are up seven cents to $2.079 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 $1.996. This time last year, gasoline was $2.502 in Lockport. The national average is $2.044.

The national average price of gas declined on the week for the first time in nearly two months, though the drop was only about one cent. Today’s average of $2.04 per gallon is the lowest for this day since 2009. The national average has spent 19 consecutive days above $2 per gallon, and pump prices are likely to fluctuate as the supply of summer-blend gasoline continues to make its way to terminals nationwide. Refineries are also increasing their utilization rates. Just in time for the beginning of the summer driving season, additional supply is also expected to enter the market following the restart of ExxonMobil’s Torrance, California refinery and the gasoline market is poised to be well supplied as we enter the busy summer driving season. Barring any major disruptions or shortages in supply, the above factors may keep pump prices relatively steady in the coming weeks.

Unclear expectations about future supply and demand continue to influence global oil prices. OPEC is meeting to discuss production issues on April 17, though most market watchers question if the countries will agree on a freeze or whether it will even be effective. A potential freeze in production could cause prices to increase temporarily, though it is difficult to see how it will reduce the market’s extreme oversupply. Additionally, domestic crude oil inventories experienced their largest weekly decrease since January, attributed to increases in the refinery utilization rate and the shutdown of the Keystone pipeline due to a leak, which reduced crude oil supply. Both factors are believed to have caused West Texas Intermediate to rally to close out the week. At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI was up $2.46 and settled at $39.72 per barrel. This represents one of the strongest settlements for 2016 and is the highest weekly gain since early March.

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