DAYTON — Ohio motorists are not only battling below zero temperatures to kick off 2018, but also higher prices at the pump. The current average for regular gas in Ohio is $2.49, up 10 cents from last week and up 17 cents from this time a year ago, landing the state on AAA’s Top 10 Largest Weekly Gas Prices List.
At $2.51, Dayton is above the national gas price average of $2.49, which is the most expensive seen at the start of a new year since 2014, when gas prices were more than $3/gallon. High travel volumes over the holidays drove gas prices up five cents on the week. At the start of 2018, motorists in the Northeast, South and the upper Midwest are seeing pump prices as much as 13 cents more expensive than last one week ago.
“Although prices at the pump shot up over the holidays, now that the holiday season in the rearview mirror, motorists can expect gas prices to trend cheaper this month as we are likely to see a significant drop in gasoline demand,” says AAA Public Affairs Manager, Cindy Antrican.
The latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) report measures gasoline demand at a strong 9.5 million b/d, which is typical of the holiday season. However, historical data shows that in early January demand typical drops and stays below the 9 million mark for the first few months of the year.
Despite the higher gas prices, AAA encourages motorists to make sure their gas tanks are full due to the extreme cold temperatures.
“AAA has seen significant call volume today from motorists with battery and tire issues due to the cold weather,” continues Antrican. “It is critical that motorists take every precaution, plan and prepare for the possibility of a roadside emergency.”
The nation’s top ten states with the largest yearly changes are: Alaska (+39 cents), Montana (+35 cents), California (+34 cents), Oregon (+30 cents), Hawaii (+27 cents), Washington (+24 cents), Wyoming (+24 cents), Indiana (+23 cents), Nevada (+22 cents) and Utah (+22 cents).
The nation’s top ten states with the least expensive gasoline are: Missouri ($2.22), Oklahoma ($2.22), Alabama ($2.22), Arkansas ($2.23), Mississippi ($2.23), South Carolina ($2.24), Texas ($2.24), Louisiana ($2.26), Tennessee ($2.26) and Kansas ($2.28).
Great Lakes and Central
Across the region, gas prices have increased as much as 10 cents on the week with four states landing on this week’s top 10 states with the largest increases: Ohio (+10 cents), Michigan (+8 cents), Kentucky (+8 cents) and Kansas (+6 cents). At $2.69, Michigan is selling the most expensive gas in the region, followed by Illinois ($2.63) and Indiana ($2.61). Missouri ($2.21) is selling the cheapest gas not only in the Great Lakes and Central states, but in the whole country.
Compared to beginning of December, Indiana (+24 cents), Michigan (+23 cents), Ohio (+15 cents) and Illinois (+12 cents) are the only states where gas prices have increased more than 10 cents on the month.
With a 259,000 bbl. add, gasoline inventory sits at 48.1 million bbl., according to the EIA (week ending Dec. 22). The last time the region had inventory less than 50 million bbl. at the end of the year was in 2010.
Oil market dynamics
On Friday, the final day of trading for 2017, WTI closed 58 cents up, reaching its highest price of the year: $60.42/bbl. Moving into 2018, prices are expected to continue rising as OPEC’s production reduction agreement will remain in place for the entirety of 2018.
2017’s increasing oil prices, especially in the fourth quarter, led to increased investment in production and drilling. This allowed the U.S. to reach its highest crude production level — 9.637 million b/d (October) — since April 1971, officially confirmed by EIA last week. This represents a roughly 10 percent gain from the same month in 2016 and a 167,000 b/d increase from September 2017. For 2018, U.S. crude production is expected to hit 10 million b/d for the first time ever, helping the country to meet domestic demand and expand its export prowess to countries that have growing energy demands around the globe. The total number of active rigs, 747, is 222 more than the total active number of rigs at the beginning of 2017. No active oilrigs were added last week, according to Baker Hughes, Inc.
Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.