A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

AAA: National gas price average rising to pre-pandemic levels despite plummeting demand

At $2.31, the national gas price average is at its highest in 10 months. Pump prices have increased, despite gas demand falling from 8.1 million barrels a day to 7.4 million barrels a day ― the lowest level recorded since the end of May 2020, according to the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest weekly report.

Today’s national average is 6 cents more than last week, 16 cents more than a month ago, but still cheaper than last year by 27 cents.

Kentucky’s average price for a gallon of unleaded jumped over 9 cents compared to a week ago. Lexington’s average jumped 11 cents on the week and now sit at $2.25, a full 26 cents higher than just a month ago.

“Gas prices are rising as supply tightens and crude oil gets more expensive. Decreasing demand is outweighed by these other factors at the moment,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins, public and government affairs manager, AAA Blue Grass. “Last week, crude oil pushed to the highest price since before the pandemic. If crude prices remain high, Americans can expect to pay more at the pump this month.”

By EIA measurements, U.S. gasoline supply sits at 241 million barrels. While this is the healthiest measurement since August 2020, it is 10 million barrels less than the start of 2020 (251 million barrels) when COVID-19 concerns were minimal. This year-over-year deficit, combined with lower refinery production rates and ongoing refinery maintenance, is pushing crude and gas prices more expensive.

On the week, all state gas price averages are more expensive, with nearly 30 state averages in-creasing by at least a nickel. Three states saw double-digit jumps: West Virginia (+17 cents), New Mexico (+11 cents) and Florida (+10 cents), with Kentucky not far behind. With this week’s pump prices increasing, only one state―Mississippi, at $1.99―has an average of less than $2/gallon.

Gas Prices Continue Higher Across Most of the Bluegrass
Today’s average of $2.20 in Kentucky is 22 cents more than a month ago. Today’s gas price in Kentucky is well below the Commonwealth’s average of $2.41 seen a year ago. In Lexington, the average price is $2.25, up 11 cents from last week and a full 26 cents higher than a month ago.

Surrounding communities have also seen gas prices rise in the past week, some of them more dramatically than either the Kentucky or national changes in price. In Nicholasville, the average price is up 22 cents, now at just $2.25. Georgetown is up 12 cents, now averaging $2.26. Versailles held steady at $2.19, while Winchester is up 23 cents at $2.27. Richmond is up 9 cents, landing at $2.28.

Henderson is the community with the lowest price in Kentucky at $2.02. The high spot in the Commonwealth is Louisville, at $2.28.

Quick Stats

The nation’s top 10 largest weekly increases: West Virginia (+17 cents), New Mexico (+11 cents), Florida (+10 cents), Kentucky (+9 cents), Tennessee (+9 cents), South Carolina (+9 cents), Arkansas (+8 cents), North Carolina (+8 cents), Missouri (+8 cents) and Ohio (+8 cents).

The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets: Mississippi ($1.99), Texas ($2.01), Louisiana ($2.02), Missouri ($2.03), Oklahoma ($2.03), Kansas ($2.06), Arkansas ($2.07), Alabama ($2.08), South Carolina ($2.10) and Tennessee ($2.13).

Oil Market Dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session, WTI increased by $1.41 cents to settle at $52.84. Crude prices increased last week after Saudi Arabia announced that it would cut its crude production by 1 million b/d in February and March.

Additionally, increasing crude prices were supported by EIA’s weekly report revealing that total domestic crude inventories decreased by 8 million barrels to 485.5 million barrels last week. If total domestic crude supply drops again this week, crude prices could continue to increase and push pump prices higher.

Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

AAA Blue Grass

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