Pittsburgh-area gasoline prices fall to $2.56

Average pump prices in the Pittsburgh region sit around $2.56 a gallon this morning, down one cent from last week, according to GasBuddy’s survey of more than 700 stations in southwestern Pennsylvania.

After gasoline prices increased with higher oil prices and a higher Pennsylvania fuel tax, motorists have seen five weeks of declines as demand cools during the winter months.

But while analysts believe gasoline prices will trend downward for the next few weeks, motorists could be in for a sharp rise as the weather gets warmer.

“The era of falling gasoline prices will likely be coming to an end soon at a gas station near you,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, in the website’s weekly media release. “Not to say declines are completely done, but over the next few weeks we'll likely see more times when stations are raising their prices then dropping them.”

The U.S. average typically rises 35 to 65 cents from its lowest price in February through the end of May, “and there's no reason to believe the same won't happen this year,” Mr. DeHaan said.

Along with higher demand for gasoline, trends in the oil market could push prices higher.

An international agreement brokered last fall by major oil producers — members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, as well as countries outside of that group — has gone into effect to limit production. The agreement aims to alleviate a global oversupply that has weighed down prices for more than two years.

This morning, OPEC's monthly oil market report showed countries have mostly complied with that agreement.

Oil hit $58 a barrel in early January — the highest mark since the summer months of 2015 — oil prices have eased. This morning, the global oil price benchmark hovered around $56 a barrel. 

Pittsburgh-area gasoline prices are up 64 cents from this time one year ago, when prices bottomed out below $2 a gallon. Still, today’s averages are 20 cents higher than this time in 2015, 99 cents lower than in 2014, and $1.17 cents lower than in 2013.

Daniel Moore: dmoore@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2743 and Twitter @PGdanielmoore.

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