PARKERSBURG - After a brief drop, West Virginia motorists are paying a nickel more for a gallon of gasoline.
On Jan. 2, the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.434 in West Virginia.
According to the latest AAA Fuel Gauge report, 2012 ended with gasoline at an annual national average of $3.60 a gallon - the highest on record and nine cents more expensive than the previous high of $3.51 set in 2011.
In Parkersburg the average price was quoted at $3.405 a gallon; only Weirton at $3.331 was lower and Wheeling was slightly higher at $3.408.
Gasoline prices in all West Virginia cities surveyed, except Weirton, were higher than the national average.
At last Monday's close of formal trading on the NYMEX, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil settled at $91.82 a barrel, up $1.02 on the day.
Prices At The Pump
A quick glance at gasoline prices across West Virginia:
* Bridgeport: $3.463
* Clarksburg: $3.43
* Huntington: $3.449
* Martinsburg: $3.494
* Morgantown: $3.487
* Parkersburg: $3.405
* Weirton: $3.331
* Wheeling: $3.408
While oil prices are rising, they remain more than $10 less expensive than the $102.96 settlement price to begin 2012. WTI peaked for the year at $109.77 a barrel on Feb. 24.
Commodities prices could continue their upward trend as investor confidence returns and economic fears are allayed with the passage of a fiscal agreement, AAA officials said Wednesday.
Despite the higher prices at the start, AAA expects national gasoline prices in 2013 to average less than prices in 2012.
Last year, prices increased to begin the year as geopolitical tension with Iran mounted and the "fear premium" in oil markets propelled the national average price at the pump to a high of $3.94 on April 5 and 6 - more than 65 cents higher than the price to begin the year.
Continued economic concerns, weak demand and increased domestic crude oil production are likely to temper any seasonal price increase in the coming months, AAA officials said.
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.