After dropping to a low of $1.76 in April, the national gas price average is pennies away from hitting the $2/gallon mark. Today’s average is $1.96, which is 8 cents higher than a week ago, 19 cents more than last month, but still a significant 87 cents cheaper than the end of May 2019.
The more expensive pump prices can be attributed to fluctuations in crude and demand.
In the past week, crude oil hit its highest price point – nearly $34 per barrel – since the Administration declared the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency and many states started implementing stay-at-home restrictions. While demand has been increasing since the end of April, it is down 28 percent compared to the first three weeks of May last year.
“Americans have seen significantly cheaper-than-normal gas prices the past two months," said Elizabeth Carey, AAA spokesperson. "However, those low prices – as well as crude oil prices – have been inching upward.
"While motorists will see pump prices continue to increase, AAA does not expect the summer average to be as expensive as last year’s season.”
One factor that could cause a sudden spike in gas prices is the Atlantic hurricane season, which is June 1 through Nov. 30.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts the 2020 season will be above-normal, potentially resulting in 13-19 named storms. An average Atlantic hurricane season typically produces 12 named storms, including three major hurricanes.
Here's a look at today’s average prices:
- Batavia -- $2.21 (up 1 cent since last week)*
- Buffalo -- $2.21 (up 2 cents since last week)
- Ithaca -- $2.12 (down 1 cent since last week)
- Rochester -- $2.20 (up 1 cent since last week)
- Rome -- $2.18 (up 6 cents since last week)
- Syracuse -- $2.08 (up 2 cents since last week)
- Watertown -- $2.18 (up 4 cents since last week)
"Average gasoline prices across the United States continue to recover as more motorists take back to the roads as states relax previous shelter-in-place orders and begin filling their tanks, driving demand to continue rising," said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.
"Since demand is a major ingredient in what drives gasoline prices and demand is likely to continue to rebound, it is also pushing the price of both crude oil and gas prices higher.
Unfortunately, thus far, refiners have started to input more crude oil into their refineries, but there has been some lag as refiners remain cautious on flooding the market with unwanted products.
As long as COVID-19 cases continue to drop over time and provinces reopen, I suspect it is only a matter of time before average price hits the $2 per gallon mark again, which could happen as early as this week."