RICHMOND (WINA) – Triple-A MidAtlantic says people pulling up to the gas pumps see March coming in like a lion with the average per-gallon up 30-cents over the beginning of last month. Triple-A’s Morgan Dean says the national average is up to $2.72-a-gallon and is likely to head to at least $2.80. Monday’s is the most expensive national gas price average since August 2019.
In Virginia, the average is $2.61-a-gallon, up 8-cents from last week, 30-cents from last month, and 28-cents from this time last year. The forecast increase means drivers can expect to see increases of another 5-to-10-cents at the peak.
Dean says the main culprit is the ice, snow, and frigid weather along the Gulf Coast and Texas putting 26 refineries offline. Refinery utilization resultantly, according to the Energy Information Administration, was pushed down to a low of 68%. The average runs usually around 83%. This was happening while prices were already inching up starting in early January from speculators betting on a demand increase as more COVID vaccine is administered.
Demand, however, has remained low. The latest EIA data showed demand at 7.2-million barrels a day, which is the lowest report since last May.
Dean says, “While the month is roaring in like a lion, by the end of it we could see some relief at the pump while refineries resume normal operations, especially if crude oil prices show signs of stability.”