AAA Carolinas: Gas prices in NC highest annual average in seven years

Consumer Watch

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After a year mostly characterized by rising gas prices, 2021 ended with prices slowly moving lower.

The state average for North Carolina decreased two cents the past two weeks, averaging $3.07 per gallon over the weekend – whereas the state average for South Carolina increased two cents the past two weeks, averaging $3.03 per gallon.

“The pandemic has caused a rollercoaster ride for prices at the pump,” said Tiffany Wright, spokesperson, AAA – The Auto Club Group in the Carolinas. “Gas prices plummeted in 2020 when lockdowns led to lower fuel demand, causing a glut in global fuel supplies. As a result, many countries cut back on crude production, leaving the market vulnerable to what would happen next. In 2021, vaccinations rolled out and demand came roaring back much faster than oil production, which led to fuel prices skyrocketing to levels not seen in seven years.”

“For now, it appears these higher gas prices will hang around well into 2022,” Wright said. “Motorists should expect continued volatility at the pump, as prices will likely ebb and flow, based on news about the pandemic and its implications on global supply and demand.”

In 2021, the average price for gasoline in North Carolina started at a low of $2.10 per gallon and reached a high of $3.25 per gallon (October 27). The average price for gasoline in South Carolina started at a low of $2.01 per gallon and reached a high of $3.18 per gallon (October 27).

Now, the current gas price average in North Carolina sits at $3.06, having a 1-cent decrease on the week. This is 10 cents cheaper than a month ago and 95 cents more expensive than last year. South Carolina’s current gas price average sits at $3.02, having a 3-cent increase on the week. This is 3 cents cheaper than a month ago and $1.01 more expensive than last year.

Today’s national average of $3.28 is 8 cents cheaper than a month ago and $1.03 more than a year ago.

According to new data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), total domestic gasoline stocks decreased slightly by 1.5 million bbl last week as gasoline demand increased to 9.72 million b/d. Growing demand and tight supply would support more significant increases in pump prices, but fluctuations in the price of crude oil have helped to limit price increases. If oil prices climb, pump prices will likely follow suit.

Despite demand concerns over the omicron variant of COVID-19, crude prices have increased since the EIA reported that total domestic oil stocks decreased. The current stock level is 14.9 percent lower than at the end of December 2020, contributing to domestic crude prices. This week, prices could continue to climb if EIA’s next weekly report shows another decrease in total stocks – but for now, crude oil future prices for 2022 appear relatively benign, trading within a range of $70 to just above $75 per barrel. However, as history has proven, that will change in time.

For updated state and metro prices log on to https://gasprices.aaa.com/

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