Pittsburgh-area gasoline prices fall to $2.60 a gallon

Continuing a remarkable trend, pump prices in the Pittsburgh region dropped another two cents a gallon in the last week to $2.60 on Monday, according to GasBuddy’s survey of more than 700 stations in southwestern Pennsylvania.

It was the eighth consecutive week of falling gasoline prices in the region, after prices increased more than 20 cents in April.

The downward shift in prices is remarkable because seasonal pressures normally push up gasoline prices during spring months, 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 February to June. So far this spring, prices have increased only 11 cents during that same time.

Meanwhile, the average price nationally fell rose three cents to $2.30 a gallon, GasBuddy reported. Earlier this month, U.S. prices hit the lowest average for this time of year since 2005, according to the price-tracking website’s data.

“Another week, another nearly country-wide decline in average gasoline prices as crude oil prices struggle near the lowest levels of the year,” Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, wrote in the website’s weekly media release. 

Market analysts agree that Pittsburgh prices — as well as prices across the country — have been weighed down by slumping global oil prices, which are the biggest factor in American gasoline prices.

A deal reached in December to cut production among the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has not been enough to push prices higher. OPEC members last month agreed to extend those production caps another nine months, but disappointed investors who wanted deeper cuts.

Though global oil price benchmark rose to $56 a barrel earlier in April, it has cooled off in May and June. On Monday, it hovered just above $47 a barrel.

Mr. DeHaan, however, cautioned motorists against expecting more price drops in coming weeks and demand continues to increase as Americans hit the road this summer. 

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

Compared with previous years, the region’s pumps are on average two cents more expensive than this time one year ago; 37 cents cheaper than in 2015; and $1.18 cheaper than in 2014.

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

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