Gasoline prices fall to $2.87 a gallon




Average gasoline prices in the Pittsburgh region dipped 2 cents over the last week and sit at $2.87 a gallon, according to price-tracking website GasBuddy.

That compares with the national average of $2.63 a gallon, which also dropped 2 cents in the last week.

Gasoline markets have stabilized but prices still remain high after Hurricane Harvey slammed the Houston area, temporarily knocking out refineries that produce roughly 25 percent of the country’s gasoline. 

From Aug. 29 to Sept. 5, Pittsburgh-area pump prices increased 24 cents — the largest weekly spike in the region recorded since GasBuddy began keeping detailed data in 2007. 

In the two weeks since, Gulf Coast refineries have appeared to recover and start up to full production, keeping prices from increasing further. And Hurricane Irma, which made landfall in Florida last week, did not have much impact on gasoline prices.

“Gasoline production has continued to recover after Harvey, leading much of the country to enjoy falling gasoline prices along with fall weather,” Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, wrote in the website’s weekly media release.

“It still will take time to completely heal from the issues Harvey and Irma left, particularly due to the large scale disruptions of fuel logistics and production,” he added. “But improvement will continue both with lower retail prices and high refinery output.”

Analysts believe it could be several weeks before retail gasoline prices return to pre-Harvey levels. 

But pump prices are expected to be pushed down this autumn, as demand from motorists drops off and global crude oil prices — the largest factor in the price of U.S. gasoline — show no sign of reaching higher ground. The global crude oil benchmark rose about $1 over the last week to about $55 a barrel on Monday. 

“With refineries continuing to get back online and with demand cooling off from the summer months, we have more room to see the national average drop in the week ahead,” Mr. DeHaan wrote. “In fact, this week could see some of the largest drops in gas prices in many months.”

Compared with previous years, the region’s pumps are on average 50 cents more expensive than this time one year ago; 39 cents more expensive than this time in 2015; and 65 cents cheaper than this time in 2014.

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

First Published September 18, 2017 10:21 AM

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