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Concerns about COVID delta variant drive gas prices to highest of year, Kentucky up five cents on week

Crude oil prices dropped below $70 a barrel at the end of last week in reaction to concerns about the delta variant, growing COVID case numbers and the possibility of potential lockdowns. While crude is a little cheaper, gas prices are still positioned to remain high in August.

As of Aug. 9, the national average was $3.19. That is the most expensive gas price average of the year as well as $1.02 more than a year ago, a nickel more than a month ago and 2 cents more than a week ago.

In Kentucky, the average price for unleaded jumped up 5 cents on the week, landing at $2.97. That’s just 3 cents more than a month ago, but 97 cents more than a year ago, a reflection of the significant change in demand.

(NKyTribune file)

Kentucky loses its position as one of the 10 least expensive markets based on gas prices and exchanges it for a position as one of the 10 markets with the largest changes in gas prices on the week.

Pump prices fluctuated across the country last week with states seeing as much as a 9-cent jump to a 7-cent decrease. The variation in prices is partly attributed to the U.S. seeing an increase in demand and decrease in stocks, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

“We continue to see very robust gasoline demand for the peak summer driving season,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins, public and government affairs manager, AAA Blue Grass. “The latest demand rate was 2% higher than the same time period in 2019, while gasoline stocks are about 1% below.”

August can be a busy month at the pump with school starting and others taking last minute summer trips.

These daily driving tips can help motorists save on gas:

• Slow down and drive the speed limit. On the highway, aerodynamic drag causes fuel economy to drop off significantly as speeds increase above 50 mph.

• When approaching a red light or stop sign, take your foot off the gas early and allow your car to coast down to a slower speed until it is time to brake.

• Accelerate smoothly with light to moderate throttle. This allows the automatic transmission to upshift into higher gears sooner, reducing engine rpm and saving fuel.

• Plan ahead to accomplish multiple errands in one trip, and whenever possible avoid high-traffic times of day.

• If you own more than one car, use the most fuel-efficient model that meets the needs of any given journey.

• Remove unnecessary and bulky items from your car. Minimize your use of roof racks and remove special carriers when not in use. It takes more fuel to accelerate a heavier car, and the reduction in fuel economy is greater for small cars than for larger models.

• Minimize your use of air conditioning. Even at highway speeds, open windows have less effect on fuel economy than the engine power required to operate the air conditioning compressor.

• In hot weather, park in the shade or use a windshield sunshade to lessen heat buildup inside the car. This reduces the need for air conditioning (and thus fuel) to cool down the car.

The nation’s top 10 largest changes: Michigan (+9 cents), Colorado (+7 cents), Delaware (−7 cents), Ohio (+6 cents), Florida (+6 cents), Kentucky (+5 cents), Indiana (−4 cents), South Dakota (+3 cents), Nevada (+3 cents) and Maryland (−3 cents).

The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets: Mississippi ($2.79), Louisiana ($2.82), Texas ($2.84), Alabama ($2.84), Missouri ($2.86), Arkansas ($2.87), South Carolina ($2.88), Oklahoma ($2.88), Tennessee ($2.89) and Kansas ($2.92).

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session, West Texas Intermediate decreased by 81 cents to settle at $68.28. A stronger dollar and market concern about the impact of new coronavirus infections on crude demand pushed prices lower at the end of last week. Crude prices also declined after the EIA’s latest report showed that total domestic crude stocks increased by 3.6 million bbl to 439.2 million bbl. For this week, crude prices could decrease further if the market continues to worry that crude demand will decline as restrictions are imposed to halt transmission of COVID-19.

AAA Blue Grass

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