WASHINGTON – A new report on gas and oil prices from AAA explains that although oil prices remain steady, around $100 per barrel, gasoline prices are moving up due to refinery shutdowns in the U.S. and Europe.
The U.S. Department of Energy issued a report last week that showed refinery utilization dropping to 82.2% from 83.7%. The current national average retail price for a gallon of self-serve gasoline is $3.43. This price is up five cents from the prior week, up 15 cents from late December, but up 33 cents from the same period a year ago.
As for oil prices, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil dropped at the beginning of the week as opposing market forces canceled out any major changes in price. Although concerns about the European debt situation push prices down, tensions with Iran and signs of a U.S. economic recovery are pushing prices up.
In addition, although there are concerns about supply chain disruptions, a Department of Energy (DOE) last week showed an increase in stocks of crude oil of 3.6 million barrels, but only a slight increase in demand, at 8.098 million barrels per day. Although demand is up from the previous week, the year-over-year demand level shows a decrease.