Small drop for Pittsburgh-area gas prices




The average gasoline price in the Pittsburgh region dipped one cent a gallon to $2.68 on Monday, according to GasBuddy’s survey of more than 700 stations in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The downward shift is a remarkable move after regional gasoline prices rose more than 20 cents a gallon in April. In the springtime, the seasonal pressures typically push up gasoline prices as refineries temporarily shut down to produce cleaner-burning gasoline for the summer months. 

Each spring, average U.S. gasoline prices rise 35 cents to 75 cents, usually from February to May, according to GasBuddy’s historical figures.

Last year, Pittsburgh-area prices increased 73 cents from late-February to mid-June. So far this spring, prices have increased 17 cents.

Pittsburgh prices — as well as prices across the country — have been weighed down by global oil prices, which are the biggest factor in American gasoline prices. Despite hovering above $56 a barrel through much of 2017, the global oil price benchmark on Monday is about $50.80 a barrel.

Strong oil production has worried investors that the years-long glut in supply will continue. A deal reached in December by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries a deal to cut production among its members, led by Saudi Arabia, has not been enough to push prices higher.

OPEC is scheduled to meet again later this month. 

Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, said while motorists have so far avoided the usual spring rise in prices, the coming weeks could be different. More people hit the road in the summer, and an oil report last week showed inventories lower than expected, boosting oil prices. 

"The national average gas price has again declined in the last week, but the road ahead may be a bit bumpier,” Mr. DeHaan wrote in the site’s weekly media release. “Government data showed a larger than expected decline in oil inventories and gasoline inventories, weighing on markets at the precise time that OPEC chats about extending its crude oil production cuts. Watch both of these factors this week to get a taste for where prices will go to start the summer driving season.”

Pittsburgh-area gasoline is already higher than in most of the country. Pennsylvania has the seventh-most expensive price per gallon, in part because the state has the highest fuel taxes in the country, according to GasBuddy.com.

The region’s pumps are on average 24 cents more expensive than this time one year ago; 20 cents cheaper than in 2015; and $1.17 cheaper than in 2014.

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

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