Pittsburgh gasoline prices drift lower to $2.80 a gallon

Average gasoline prices in the Pittsburgh region dipped three cents over the last week and sit at $2.80 a gallon, according to price-tracking website GasBuddy.

That compares with the national average of $2.56 a gallon, which stayed flat during the last week.

The region’s fuel prices likely will continue to fall as national and global pressures continue to weigh down gasoline and fuel prices recover from Hurricane Harvey in late August. 

“For a third straight week, the majority of states saw average pump prices for gasoline fall as refineries affected by Hurricane Harvey in late August continued to show signs of being on the mend,” said Dan McTeague, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, in the website’s weekly media release.

“All the more remarkable when you consider that oil prices, which rose over $5 a barrel in September, did not prevent gasoline prices from declining. ... That momentum is likely to continue with another decrease for the week ahead.”

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

For one, prices still remain high after the massive storm 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 three weeks since, Gulf Coast refineries have appeared to recover and return to full production, keeping prices from increasing further.

In addition, pump prices are expected to slip this autumn, as demand from motorists drops off. As Mr. McTeague noted, global crude oil prices — the largest factor in the price of U.S. gasoline — rose last week to about $59 a barrel, the highest mark in 15 months. But it still shows no sign of rising significantly.

Compared with previous years, the Pittsburgh region’s pumps are on average 43 cents more expensive than this time one year ago; 40 cents more expensive than this time in 2015; and 70 cents cheaper than this time in 2014.

Gasoline prices sit relatively higher in Pennsylvania. The commonwealth has the eighth-most expensive fuel prices in the country. 

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

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