AAA: Carolina Gas Prices Dip As Crude Oil Prices See Dramatic Fluctuation

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (News Release) — Motorists saw some positive change at the pump on the week with gas prices in the Carolinas declining, as U.S. gasoline demand remained relatively flat and crude oil prices began to fluctuate.

“It’s too early to determine if cheaper gas prices will be sustained or continue their downward trend,” said Tiffany Wright, Public Affairs Director, AAA – The Auto Club Group in the Carolinas. “Part of the unknown is due to fluctuating crude oil prices.”

Crude prices dropped to a low of $66/bbl last Monday, but were back over $70/bbl by the end of the week. Prices initially dropped following news from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that they have reached a deal to increase production in August. However, that promise has been compromised by concerns about the rise in COVID case numbers and how that could negatively affect global demand.

North Carolina’s current gas price average sits at $2.89, seeing a 1-cent decline on the week. This is 3 cents cheaper than a month ago but 91 cents more expensive than last year. South Carolina’s current gas price average also sits at $2.89, seeing a 2-cent decline on the week. This is 8 cents cheaper than a month ago but 99 cents more expensive than last year. Both states are part of the nation’s least expensive markets.

Today’s national gas price average is $3.15, pushing two cents cheaper on the week. Since the beginning of July, gas prices have averaged $3.14 – more expensive on the month (+6 cents) and the year (+97 cents).

For pump prices to push less expensive, OPEC will need to follow through with their production increases, crude will need to sell consistently at lower prices and the market will need to adjust to the potential resurgence of COVID cases. If these factors prove true consistently, pump prices could be less expensive in August, though the national average could still be at or above the $3 per gallon mark.

Although crude prices tumbled last week to $66 per barrel due to market concerns that the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant will slow potential economic growth and demand, market concern about the ongoing pandemic reversed by the end of the week and pushed crude prices higher. Prices increased despite the Energy Information Administration reporting that total domestic crude inventories rose by 2.1 million bbl to 439.7 million bbl and plans by OPEC to increase production next month. For this week, crude prices could decline if market concerns about demand grow.

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