The national average gasoline price is rising due to low crude oil demand and the upcoming refinery maintenance season.
 - Photo by Vince Taroc.

The national average gasoline price is rising due to low crude oil demand and the upcoming refinery maintenance season.

Photo by Vince Taroc.

The national average price of regular-unleaded jumped 8 cents to $2.39 per gallon, even as most states continue to sell gasoline at less than $2.50 per gallon, according to AAA. Fuel costs are a fleet's top operating expense.

Lower-priced gasoline in most of the country has been driven by cheaper crude-oil prices. The national average for the week ending Feb. 25 is 12 cents higher than a month ago and 12 cents lower than a year ago. Severe weather along the East Coast and in the Midwest has held demand in check. Pump prices are climbing around the country as refineries gear up for spring gasoline production and maintenance season, said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson.

"On average, gas prices this year are 11% cheaper than the first two months of 2018 in part due to mostly cheaper crude oil prices so far this year," Casselano said. "Even though pump prices are on the rise, the increase has been countered by mostly decreasing demand."

States with the lowest average price now include Mississippi ($2.10), Alabama ($2.12), Louisiana ($2.12), Arkansas ($2.13), Missouri ($2.13), Texas ($2.14), Colorado ($2.14), South Carolina ($2.15), Virginia ($2.17), and Kansas ($2.18).

States with the highest weekly increases were Minnesota (up 15 cents), New Mexico (up 13 cents), Iowa (up 12 cents), Indiana (up 12cents), North Carolina (up 11 cents), Nebraska (up 11cents), Florida (up 11 cents), Alabama (up 11 cents), South Carolina (up 10 cents), and Illinois (up 10 cents).

Meanwhile, the average price of a gallon of diesel increased 4.2 cents to $3.048, which is 4.1 cents higher than a year ago, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

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