The Feb. 5 South Dakota average price of gasoline ($3.337) is 26 cents above the state’s price just 20 days ago, on Jan. 16. The recent price surge has been largely the result of higher crude oil prices and the “rubber-banding” of midcontinent retail gasoline prices, which fell dramatically to end the year and are now swinging back to the upside.
At yesterday’s close of formal trading on the NYMEX, the price of West Texas Intermediate settled down $1.60 at $96.17 per barrel. While prices moved lower yesterday, WTI traded last week at its most expensive level since September 14.
Nine states have a lower gasoline price average today than South Dakota: Wyoming $2.95, Montana $3.04, Utah $3.15, New Mexico $3.18, Colorado $3.20, Idaho $3.26, Arizona $3.30, Tennessee $3.32, and South Carolina $3.32.
Today’s national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.53. This price is 17 cents more expensive than one week ago, 23 cents more than one month ago and a nickel above last year’s price on this date. Today’s price is the highest on record for this calendar day. The national average has exceeded the year-ago level and set a new daily record for six days in a row.
The 17-cent increase in the nationwide average since last Monday is the most dramatic one-week spike in nearly two years and the twentieth largest weekly increase of the 21st century. The last time the national average increased more rapidly was Feb. 25-March 4, 2011, when violence in Northern Africa and the Middle East, most notably in Libya, sent oil and gasoline prices higher on fears of supply disruption. The most dramatic one-week increase on record was Aug. 28-Sept. 4, 2005, when prices rose 46 cents in the days following Hurricane Katrina.
AAA Expects Gas Prices to Rise in February Due to Refinery Actions
- AAA expects the national average to increase in February due to seasonal refinery actions, but at a slower pace than in the previous two years when the average climbed by 29 cents per gallon (2012) and 27 cents per gallon (2011). Despite the expected slower overall pace, it is likely the national average will rise temporarily above year-ago levels in the coming days.
- “Gas prices are expected to rise steadily as many refineries temporarily close for scheduled turnaround maintenance and as the industry begins the complicated process of switching over to summer blends of gasoline,” said Marilyn Buskohl, spokeswoman for AAA South Dakota. “Various summer-gasoline blends are required in many regions to meet local air quality standards, including here in South Dakota. These fuels cost more to produce and the changeover process can disrupt supplies in the spring.”
- February gas prices have increased at a quick pace over the past couple of years due to higher oil costs caused primarily by civil war in Libya (2011) and geopolitical tensions with Iran (2012). While gas prices this February are expected to increase at a slower rate, major events such as an unexpected refinery outage, increased unrest in North Africa or changes in the global economy could affect this month’s forecast. The national average in February has increased nine out of the previous ten years.
- The national average should rise steadily through April or May as the switch to summer-blend gasoline continues and with an increase in demand this spring. AAA expects gas prices nationwide this spring will peak at a lower national average than last year’s high of $3.94 per gallon, which occurred on April 5 and 6.
- South Dakota’s spring gas prices are likely to top out at about $3.60 per gallon, if nothing catastrophic happens to disrupt supplies or distribution of gasoline or oil.
In South Dakota, citywide average pump prices are lowest in Kennebec at $3.68 per gallon and most expensive in Toronto, $2.60.