Gasoline Price Sets U.S. Record in 2012
From Columbus Dispatch
By Dan Murtaugh
U.S. motorists paid a record-high average price for gasoline in 2012, as severe weather and political tensions drove up the cost of fuel.
The national average price was $3.60 a gallon, 9 cents more than the record set last year, said AAA, the nation’s largest motoring group.
The average price touched $3.94 a gallon on April 5 and 6 after crude oil rallied as the United States and European nations imposed an embargo on Iranian oil exports to pressure the Persian Gulf nation over its nuclear program. The price sank as low as $3.22 a gallon on Dec. 20 amid lower demand and higher supply in winter, when looser emissions regulations are in effect.
“Factors as volatile as major hurricanes, refinery outages and tension in the Middle East resulted in significant frustration for people filling up their cars,” AAA spokesman Avery Ash said in a statement.
Hawaii, Alaska and California were the three most-expensive states; South Carolina, Missouri and Mississippi were the cheapest.
As was the case nationally, Ohio gas prices were volatile throughout 2012, averaging a record $3.59 a gallon, said Kimberly Schwind, spokeswoman for Ohio AAA.
That average is a penny below the national average and about in the middle of the road among state averages, she said.
Ohio’s $3.59 average was 12 cents higher than in 2011, Schwind said. The highest price of the year was $3.95 on March 23, and the lowest was $3.06 on Dec. 20. The record daily average in the state was $4.16 a gallon on May 4, 2011.
In 2012, prices peaked in the spring in Ohio and remained high over the summer due at least in part to refinery issues throughout the region, she said. Prices fell in the fall as those refinery issues were resolved and the production of the cheaper winter blends of gasoline began.
Gas prices are expected to drop in 2013 because of increased U.S. crude-oil production and reduced demand, Ash said.
The United States produced an average of 6.98 million barrels of oil a day in the week that ended onDec. 21, according to Energy Department data. That was the most since March 1993. Drillers in states such as North Dakota and Texas have spurred the output growth with increased use of methods such as directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing, known as “fracking.”
The four-week average for gas demand through the week that ended on Dec. 21 was 3.3 percent less than a year earlier, MasterCard Inc. said last week.
Fuel consumption in 2012 through that date was 3.6 percent below the same period in 2011. MasterCard’s information is based on credit-card swipes and cash and check payments at about 140,000 U.S. gas stations.
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