Newspaper article International New York Times

Gas Prices at the Pump Inch Upward in U.S. ; End of Steady Decline Attributed to Temporary Closing of Refineries

Newspaper article International New York Times

Gas Prices at the Pump Inch Upward in U.S. ; End of Steady Decline Attributed to Temporary Closing of Refineries

Article excerpt

The small increase is less likely to be a trend than to be the result of some partial or temporary refinery shutdowns, energy experts said.

For 123 consecutive days, the AAA motor club reported a daily drop in national gasoline prices, bringing hundreds of dollars of savings to almost every American family. But that streak has come to an end.

On Tuesday, the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose a fraction of a penny, to $2.04. That's still 27 cents lower than it was a month ago, and $1.25 lower than a year ago, the product of a more than 50 percent drop in oil prices since June.

The slight daily increase is not necessarily a sign of a trend toward higher prices at the pump, energy experts said. More likely, it is the product of some partial and temporary refinery shutdowns in Ohio, Texas and Louisiana that are raising prices in the country's midsection.

Also, it is normal at the end of January and beginning of February for gasoline prices to begin to rise as refineries begin their seasonal maintenance operations to prepare for processing more expensive spring and summer blends.

Prices at the pump remain below $2 a gallon for regular in more than half the states, and only in Hawaii do drivers pay more than $3 a gallon. Gasoline prices might drop a few pennies again the next few days if the snowstorm in the Northeast significantly interrupts road transportation and curbs gasoline demand, energy experts said.

"While gasoline prices are likely to increase this spring due to seasonal demand and maintenance," Michael Green, a spokesman for AAA, wrote in a weekly commentary, "barring any significant increase in the global price of crude, AAA expects the national average to remain below $3 per gallon during 2015."

The Energy Department has predicted that the average American household will save $750 this year because of lower gasoline prices. Many families will also save hundreds of dollars more from lower heating oil bills.

Oil prices recovered by more than 2 percent on Tuesday -- with the international Brent benchmark rising above $49 again -- after the secretary general of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Abdullah al-Badri, suggested that oil prices may have hit bottom and could eventually rebound to $200 if there is not sufficient global investment in oil fields. …

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