Maryland's average price today is $3.80 a gallon.
Gas prices typically stabilize and begin to fall by mid-September, but this year has been anything but typical.
The national average price for a gallon of regular self-serve gasoline jumped 5 cents in the past week to $3.87 per gallon today, which is just 7 cents shy of the high for 2012 of $3.94 a gallon set on April 5.
Maryland’s average price today is $3.80 a gallon, which is 20 cents below this year’s high of $4.00 reached on April 5. This price is 16 cents more than one month ago, 24 cents more than year ago prices and 24 cents below the record high of $4.11 set in July 2008. Maryland’s average price today is $3.80 a gallon, which is 20 cents below this year’s high of $4.00 a gallon reached on April 5.
Crude oil prices soared to four-month highs due to a series of factors, both domestic and international. The Federal Reserve announced another stimulus move to jump start a struggling U.S. economy, boosting crude prices just shy of the $100 mark Thursday, closing at $98.31 per barrel. Internationally, geopolitical tensions escalated in the Middle East following the killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens. In addition, Germany’s top court approved the eurozone’s bailout fund and fiscal pact, causing the euro to gain momentum and subsequently pressured the U.S. dollar downward. As of mid-morning Friday, crude oil was trading slightly over $99 per barrel.
This rare September jump in prices was also fueled by a "perfect storm" of refining issues – two major Midwest refineries are being upgraded to handle heavy Canadian crude oil and will require partial shutdowns over the next few months; oil companies in the Gulf of Mexico have been slow to restart after shutting down for Hurricane Isaac, the impact of which is now being felt at the pumps.
The switch to winter-blended gasoline, although less expensive, creates a short-term hiccup in prices as refineries partially shut down to make the switch and/or do maintenance work; the requirement for summer-blended gasoline expires this weekend (September 15), so prices are likely to drop in the second half of September.
Energy Information Administration (EIA) data released this week showed U.S. crude oil stocks rose by just under 2.0 million barrels to 359.1-million barrels, which was in line with expectations. Gasoline stocks fell by 1.2-million barrels to 197.7 million barrels. Gasoline demand slid 482,000 barrels to 8.695 million barrels per day (bpd), a sign that the late summer jump in gasoline consumption will not be sustained through the autumn weeks ahead.
"We’re seeing practically the highest gas prices of the season this week in a rare September upswing," said Ragina C. Averella, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "However, experts believe this ‘last hurrah’ will be short-lived. AAA expects prices at the pump will begin to decline through the end of September and continue for the last few months of the year as demand decreases and the switch to less expensive winter-blended gasoline begins, bringing much needed relief for motorists."