AAA released its monthly fuel price outlook, which noted that the national average price of gasoline rose 14 cents in July, from $3.49 to $3.63 per gallon. This was the largest monthly increase since February, and the national average price of gasoline was $3.58 per gallon, the third-highest average on record for month. The average in 2012 was $3.42 per gallon, but this year’s average is still well below the high of $4.06 per gallon in 2008.
Through August, gas prices could increase if hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast states or if refinery issues crop up, according to AAA. The company said that prices could also remain flat or drop if refineries are able to keep producing without any problems and if the weather stays calm. In 2012, gas prices in August went up 33 cents per gallon due to the impact of Hurricane Isaac along the Gulf Coast.
On a regional basis, the lowest gasoline prices are in the southern U.S. states, where access to the aforementioned Gulf Coast refineries, and lower fuel taxes, help keep prices down. One notable area in the U.S. with high prices is Connecticut, where recent refinery problems, combined with higher fuel taxes, have moved prices above $4 per gallon, AAA stated. The five states with the highest prices include Hawaii, at $4.37; Alaska, at $4.07; Connecticut, at $4.01; California, at $3.99; and Washington, at $3.93. The five states with the lowest prices include: South Carolina, at $3.30; Alabama, at $3.37; Mississippi, at $3.39; Tennessee, at $3.41; and Arkansas, at $3.43.
Related to oil prices, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil hit a 16-month high of 108.05 per barrel on July 19 due. AAA said reasons for this increase include unrest in Egypt, which controls the Suez Canal, and violence in Libya, which is an oil-producing country. At the end of July, the price of oil fell to a closing price of $103.08 per barrel, according to AAA.