In AAA’s latest Monthly Gas Prices Report, the national average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline is nearly 30 cents less than it was at this time in 2012. The national average price is $3.63 per gallon, 29 cents less than the price a year ago, which was $3.92 per gallon. In the near future, AAA projects lower gas prices, compared to last year, throughout this spring.
Since last month (March 1), gas prices have fallen 15 cents per gallon. According to AAA, this is the first month-over-month decline in gas prices since March 2003, when the average fell by 1 cent per gallon. AAA’s spokesman Avery Ash said this is unusual, and that an increase in refinery production combined with lower oil prices is helping to drive prices down.
On a regional basis, drivers in 48 out of 50 states are paying less than $4 per gallon, with the two states with the highest average prices being in Hawaii, at $4.383 per gallon, and California, at $4.04 per gallon. The five states with the highest gas price averages aside from Hawaii and California include Alaska, at $3.998, New York, at $3.893, and Connecticut, at $3.873.
Looking ahead, AAA expects gas prices to stay less expensive than in recent years due to lower oil prices and increased refinery production. AAA said the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude is $6 per barrel less than a year ago, and refinery utilization is up roughly 5% since the start of March, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Factors that could cause a rise gas prices in the future include the fact that most regions of the U.S. have yet to make the switch to summer blend gasoline and refineries still have to complete needed maintenance. Still, AAA expects a lower average gasoline price compared to last year due to higher domestic production and relatively low demand.