VIRGINIA BEACH — A drop in gasoline demand and falling oil prices may combine to take the air out of rising pump prices, according to AAA Tidewater.
The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline rose less than a nickel since last week to $3.68.
“The recent surge in oil costs took a break this week, with the price of oil tumbling back into the upper $70s per barrel,” said Ryan Adcock, AAA Tidewater public relations specialist. “If this oil price trend continues, drivers may see falling gas prices.”
According to new data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), gas demand decreased last week from 8.94 million to 8.52 million barrels per day, while, total domestic gasoline stocks increased by 1.3 million barrels to 223.5 million. According to AAA, lower demand and growth in stocks would typically push pump prices down, however, the past month’s elevated oil prices pushed them higher.
AAA also noted U.S. refineries are returning to service from extensive winter/spring maintenance, with the EIA showing total input rose last week by 330,000 barrels per day to 16.44 million, putting it above this time last year. More refinery operations will be restarted in the next three weeks, according to AAA, with some planned work extending into June.
Friday’s national average of $3.68 is 25 cents more than a month ago, but 44 cents less than a year ago.
Locally, the gas price average for the commonwealth decreased to $3.50, two cents lower than a week ago and 28 cents higher than a month ago. In Hampton Roads, prices decreased three cents to $3.52, 35 cents higher than last month and 45 cents lower than a year ago.