A surge in gas consumption, as California motorists hit the road early this year, has caused state fuel prices to rise significantly. Prices are following their typical yearly trend by moving up during the spring, peaking during the summer and decreasing through the fall. Today’s prices are $0.28 higher than a month ago, according to the AAA Northern California monthly gas survey.
Northern California’s average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.84, that’s $0.26 more than last month’s AAA report on February 11, 2014. For perspective, gas prices today are $0.26 cheaper than California’s average price on this date last year.
“While retail gas prices are climbing, oil analysts predict higher prices over the next month due to seasonal refinery maintenance and the required switchover to produce summer-blend gasoline,” said Cynthia Harris, AAA Northern California spokesperson. “These factors coupled with unexpected market-moving events, such as unplanned domestic refinery maintenance or further escalation of geopolitical tensions with Russia, could cause prices to shoot up even higher.”
Today’s national average price at the pump is $3.49 per gallon—the highest price in nearly six months. This price is $0.03 higher than one week ago and $0.22 more than one month ago, however national prices are still $0.21 per gallon less than the same date last year. The average continues to climb steadily and has increased for 31 straight days, jumping almost a quarter during this span.
Rapidly escalating tensions in Ukraine pressured West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices to a more than six-month high last Monday. However, crude oil prices dropped during the week as the situation stabilized, resulting in a more than $3.00 per barrel drop by midweek. Market watchers will continue to monitor the Russian-Ukrainian conflict closely. The associated geopolitical tensions are likely to keep oil prices from falling too far.
Crude prices declined again today following bearish economic news from China over the weekend rather than the easing tensions with Russia. China has the second largest economy in the world so a weaker than expected Chinese economic report means a lower consumption of crude oil. This trend puts downward pressure on global crude prices. At the close of today’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI crude settled down $1.46 at $101.12 per barrel.
The least expensive average price in Northern California can be found in Ukiah where regular unleaded gasoline is $3.68 per gallon. Of all the metro areas tracked by AAA in Northern California, Eureka has the highest price at $3.98 per gallon of unleaded regular.
AAA Monthly Gas Price Averages: March 2014
|City/State/Region||Price||Monthly Change||City/State/Region||Price||Monthly Change|
|N. CALIFORNIA||3.84||+.26||SANTA CRUZ||3.78||+.22|
|BAY AREA||3.87||+.27||SANTA ROSA||3.84||+.26|
|CHICO||3.76||+.27||S. LAKE TAHOE||3.84||+.27|
|PLEASANTON||3.91||+.25||NEW YORK CITY||3.82||+.14|
To get the best mileage possible, AAA recommends keeping tires at the proper pressure suggested by the vehicle manufacturer, performing routine maintenance and making sure fluids are clean and belts and hoses are in good repair. The way you drive can also impact fuel economy. Smooth driving to avoid sudden stops and starts, combining trips and lightening your load also helps conserve gasoline.
AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report is the most comprehensive retail gasoline survey available, with over 100,000 self-serve stations surveyed every day, nationwide. Data is provided in cooperation with OPIS Energy Group and Wright Express.