Gas prices in Pennsylvania are ten cents higher this week at $4.412 per gallon, according to AAA East Central’s most recent Gas Price Report.
But there may be relief in sight as lower crude oil prices may drive prices back down again.
After peaking above $123 per barrel shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the price of crude oil has gradually fallen below $110.
AAA said that if this trend holds, it may remove some of the extreme upward price pressure consumers have found at the pump.
The national average price of a gallon of gas hit $4.33 on Friday, March 11, before falling a penny and holding throughout today at $4.32. Tuesday’s national average is 14 cents more than a week ago, 82 cents more than a month ago, and $1.45 more than a year ago.
In the Lehigh Valley the average price on March 15 was $4.410 per gallon, up from last week. On March 8 the price was $4.377 per gallon.
The current price is dramatically higher than a year ago. The average price for a gallon of gas on March 15, 2021 was $2.978
AAA reports that according to new data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), total domestic gasoline stocks decreased by 1.4 million barrels to 244.6 million barrels last week. Meanwhile, gasoline demand rose slightly from 8.74 million barrels per day to 8.96 million barrels per day.
The increase in gas demand and total supply reductions are contributing to rising pump prices. However, increasing oil prices play the lead role in pushing gas prices higher as the cost of crude oil accounts for about 50% of what drivers pay at the pump.
Consumers can expect the current trend at the pump to continue if crude prices continue to climb, the report said.
At the close of Friday’s formal trading session, West Texas Intermediate increased by $3.31 to settle at $109.33.
Crude prices have eased as the market continues to find replacement barrels of oil and further supply growth for the tight market becomes apparent. However, AAA cautioned that the market remains volatile and additional disruptions or escalation of the current crisis in Ukraine could cause prices to surge again this week.
Additionally, EIA reported that total domestic crude stocks decreased by 1.8 million barrels last week to 411.6 million barrels. The current stock level is approximately 17% lower than at the end of February 2021, which continues to put pressure on domestic crude prices, according to the report.