A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

AAA: Kentucky gas prices take biggest jump in the nation; volatile crude oil prices drive pump prices

The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline has increased by 11 cents to $4.43 in the past week. The jump has been even more dramatic in the Bluegrass as Kentucky’s average price for a gallon of unleaded leaped 28 cents week-on-week, the biggest jump of any state in the nation by Thursday.

According to new data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), total domestic gasoline stocks decreased by 3.6 million barrels to 225 million barrels last week.

Gasoline demand also decreased slightly from 8.86 million barrels/day to 8.7 million barrels/day. Typically, lower demand would put downward pressure on pump prices. However, crude prices remain volatile, and as they surge, pump prices follow suit. Pump prices will likely face upward pressure as oil prices stay above $105 per barrel.

At the close of Wednesday’s formal trading session, WTI increased by $5.95 to settle at $105.71, then creeped up an additional 42 cents to $106.13 as of the close of Thursday’s formal trading session. By Friday afternoon, crude oil had continued his descent, moving up more than another $4 by 5 p.m.

At the beginning of the week, the price of crude oil slid below $100 per barrel due to global market concerns that crude demand will suffer as COVID lockdowns in China remain in place. However, crude prices reversed course Wednesday over growing market worries that Ukrainian and European Union actions against Russian oil-and-natural gas companies could spark retaliation by Russia that leads to more market disruption and uncertainty. Crude prices rose despite EIA reporting that domestic crude supply increased by 8.5 million barrels to 424.2 million barrels.

On Thursday (May 12), these 10 states showed the largest increases in their averages compared to a week earlier:

Kentucky (+28 cents), Illinois (+25 cents), New York (+25 cents), Indiana (+24 cents), North Carolina (+23 cents), Florida (+22 cents), Ohio (+22 cents), Alabama (+21 cents), Rhode Island (+20 cents) and South Carolina (+20 cents).
Today, the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded sits at $4.43. That’s a penny higher than yesterday and 15 cents higher than a week ago, as well as 35 cents higher than than a month ago. Today’s national average is $1.40 higher than prices a year ago at this time.

Today’s average in Kentucky sits at $4.22, a penny higher than yesterday and 25 cents higher than a week ago. Today’s average is 39 cents more than a month ago and $1.35 more than last year at this time.

Lexington is currently at $4.27, up 29 cents from a week ago

Around the commonwealth, Menifee and Jefferson counties are the high spots at $4.39, followed by Oldham County at $4.36. The lowest spots in the state today can be found in Lawrence County at $3.99, followed by Crittenden at $4.00.

Checking nearby, prices have also taken considerable hikes. The average price for a gallon of unleaded today in Ohio is at $4.29, West Virginia $4.24, Virginia $4.27, Tennessee $4.17, Indiana $4.41, Illinois $4.81 and Missouri $4.03.

AAA offers the following advice to help drivers save at the pump:

• A vehicle that’s been maintained will help you maximize your miles per gallon. Make routine vehicle inspections a part of your regular routine. Plus, here’s a step you can take on your own: make sure your tires are properly inflated. Underinflated tires are a drag on fuel economy. Check tire pressure at least every other week and more often this time of year, when temperatures are fluctuating.

• Find the shortest route to your destination and map it out before you go to minimize unnecessary turnarounds, idling and backtracking. Avoid peak traffic times because you get zero miles to the gallon when you’re sitting still in traffic. If possible go to “one-stop shops” where you can do multiple tasks (banking, shopping, etc.).

• Fuel economy peaks at around 50 mph on most cars, then drops off as speeds increase. Reducing highway speeds by 5 to 10 mph can increase fuel economy by as much as 14%. Surpassing the posted speed limit is not only against the law and increases the risk of crash severity, but also reduces your gas mileage.

• A car engine consumes one quarter to one-half gallon of fuel per hour when idling, but a warm engine only takes around 10 seconds worth of fuel to restart. Where safe to do so, shut off your engine if you will be stopped for more than a minute. Remember, idling gets you 0 miles to the gallon.

• Use “fast pass” or “express” toll lanes to avoid unnecessary stops or slowdowns on the highway.

• Use premium gas ONLY in vehicles that recommend or require it. Paying for premium gas for a vehicle that takes regular is a waste of money and is of no benefit to the vehicle.

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