PARKERSBURG - Gasoline prices in West Virginia will be higher as 2012 gives way to 2013, according to the latest AAA Fuel Gauge report.
West Virginia motorists are ringing in the holiday with higher gasoline prices averaging $3.38 a gallon. In Parkersburg, the average price is $3.369, fourth lowest in the state, according to the fuel gauge this week.
Prices increased four cents to $3.388 this week in the region, four cents higher for the same week last year.
Today's national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.247. Prices fell steadily for more than three months, as the transition to less-expensive, winter-blend gasoline, cheaper crude oil prices, increasing gasoline inventories, lower demand and continued economic concerns meant relief at the pump for drivers across the country, AAA officials reported.
The national average was $3.87 on Sept. 14, the day before much of the country began the seasonal fuel changeover, and dropped to a 2012 low of $3.22 on Dec. 20. As crude oil prices have firmed, the decline in retail gasoline prices has slowed and now reversed, officials said.
Over the past five years the average national gasoline price on New Year's Day has been 2008 - $3.04; 2009 - $1.62; 2010 - $2.65; 2011 - $3.07, and 2012 - $3.28.
* West Virginia's average gasoline price - $3.388
* National average gasoline price - $3.247
* Average price in Parkersburg - $3.369
* Other prices in West Virginia: $3.393, Bridgeport; $3.392, Clarksburg; $3.364, Huntington; $3.487, Martinsburg; $3.460, Morgantown; $3.307; Weirton; $3.328, Wheeling
* Average price Dec. 27, 2011 - $3.344
* Average price last week - $3.350
Whether gasoline prices continue to rise or again turn lower will be impacted by action - or inaction - in Washington surrounding the looming "fiscal cliff," AAA said.
If a deal is reached before the end-of-year deadline, it will likely be seen as positive for the U.S. economy, which could send crude prices and gasoline prices higher. If a deal is not reached, markets are likely to slump and gasoline prices could go even lower, officials said.
Crude oil prices increased to begin last week, settling above $90 a barrel on Thursday for the first time since Oct. 19. However as hope for resolution in Washington faded on Friday, prices again turned lower and ended the week back below that threshold.
At Monday's close of formal trading on the NYMEX, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) settled at $88.61 a barrel, down five cents on the day. 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.