Gas prices fall a penny after rising five cents

PARKERSBURG – That up and down roller coaster ride of gasoline prices is on the downturn again.

According to the AAA Fuel Gauge, gasoline prices for this week in West Virginia have dropped a penny to $3.424. Parkersburg has the lowest average price among state cities at $3.351.

Last week’s lowest price city, Weirton, is six-tenths of a cent higher at $3.357. Martinsburg has the highest average price at $3.516 followed by $3.484 in Morgantown.

Tuesday’s national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.30, meaning West Virginia drivers are still paying more than other states for a gallon of gasoline on average.

While this price is fractions of a penny more than one week ago, it is six cents cheaper than one month ago and seven cents less than one year ago, according to the AAA.

In the first 90 days of 2012, geopolitical tensions with Iran pressured the national price at the pump almost 65 cents higher. Without a similar market moving story to begin 2013, it is likely that the year-over-year discount will widen in the coming months, AAA officials said.

AAA continues to expect that gasoline prices in 2013 will average less than the annual record of $3.60 per gallon set last year.

According to the AAA Fuel Gauge, 12 states and Washington, D.C., have an average price at the pump that is more expensive than one year ago.

Not coincidentally, these are also the states where gasoline supplies and distribution were most heavily impacted by Hurricane Sandy this fall. While the net impact of the hurricane was demand destruction, which contributed to a lower national average to end the year, tight supplies in the Northeast linger and continue to buoy prices in the region, officials said.

While retail gasoline prices are rising at a slower rate than to start 2012, the average is pressured higher by crude oil prices that have continued to slowly increase in recent weeks. At the close of formal trading on the NYMEX Monday, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil settled at $93.19 a barrel, up 10 cents on the day.

This is the highest settlement price since Sept. 18, but is still well below the 2012 high of $109.77 a barrel on Feb. 24.

AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 80 local offices in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, New York and Kentucky servicing 2.5 million members.