Gas prices highest for early January since 2014

With early January gas prices the highest since 2014, Palm Beach County’s average gasoline price climbed 6 cents in the last week to $2.55 a gallon.

The state average rose 9 cents from a week ago to $2.44 for a gallon of regular, AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report showed Tuesday.

The national average gas price of $2.49 a gallon for regular is the most expensive seen at the start of a new year since 2014, when gas prices were more than $3 a gallon, AAA said.

Higher oil prices coupled with strong demand from drivers are to blame for the run-up.

High travel volumes over the holidays drove gas prices up 5 cents on the week nationally. Motorists in the Northeast, South and the upper Midwest are seeing pump prices as much as 13 cents more expensive than last one week ago.

“Although prices at the pump shot up over the holidays, now that the holiday season in the rear-view mirror, motorists can expect gas prices to trend cheaper this month as we are likely to see a significant drop in gasoline demand,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson.

The latest Energy Information Administration report measures gasoline demand at a strong 9.5 million barrels per day, which is typical of the holiday season. However, historical data shows that in early January demand typically drops and stays below the 9 million mark for the first few months of the year.

Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, said Tuesday that while 2017 was a fairly tame year, “Keep in mind oil prices are among the highest we’ve witnessed in over two years, and we’re in the middle of a severe cold snap, one which is likely to drive up demand for heating oil, propane and other petroleum products, which is certainly a bullish start to the year.”

On Friday West Texas Intermediate oil futures closed 58 cents up, reaching their highest price of the year at $60.42 a barrel. Moving into 2018, prices are expected to continue rising as OPEC’s production reduction agreement will remain in place for the entirety of 2018, AAA said.

Last year’s oil prices, especially in the fourth quarter, led to increased investment in production and drilling. This allowed the U.S. to reach its highest crude production level — 9.637 million barrels a day (in October) — since April 1971, the EIA confirmed last week.

This represents a roughly 10 percent gain from the same month in 2016 and a 167,000 barrels per day increase from September 2017. For 2018, U.S. crude production is expected to hit 10 million barrels per day for the first time ever, helping the country to meet domestic demand and expand its export prowess to countries that have growing energy demands around the globe.

The total number of active rigs, 747, is 222 more than the total active number of rigs at the beginning of 2017. No active oil rigs were added last week, according to Baker Hughes, Inc.

Here are the lowest prices in our area as reported at Prices can change at any time.

Jupiter: $2.49, Marathon, 5490 Military Trail

Juno Beach: $2.39, Shell, 14731 U.S. 1

North Palm Beach: $2.37, Rocket Fuel, 100 N. Federal Highway

Palm Beach Gardens: $2.39, Sunoco, 2490 PGA Blvd.

Lake Park: $2.39, Citgo, 1401 10th St.; RaceTrac, 200 N. Congress Ave.; Murphy USA, 103 N. Congress Ave.; Speedway, 1216 Northlake Blvd.; Marathon, 980 Northlake Blvd.

Riviera Beach: $2.39, RaceTrac, 4156 W. Blue Heron Blvd.; Chevron, 4128 W. Blue Heron Blvd.; Marathon, 7245 N. Military Trail; Cumberland Farms, 7228 N. Military Trail; 7-Eleven, 7280 N. Military Trail

West Palm Beach: $2.33, Exxon, 3066 N. Military Trail

Royal Palm Beach: $2.35, Costco, 11001 Southern Blvd.

Wellington: $2.39, Shell, 192 U.S. 441

Lake Worth: $2.36, Cumberland Farms, 4771 S. Military Trail; 7-Eleven, 4774 S. Military Trail; J&A, 4703 S. Military Trail

Lantana: $2.36, Costco, 1873 W. Lantana Road

Boynton Beach: $2.38, BJ’s, 1540 W. Boynton Beach Blvd.

Delray Beach: $2.36, Murphy USA, 16211 S. Military Trail

Boca Raton: $2.39, Costco, 17800 Congress Ave.; Mobil, 20385 State Road 7; Cumberland Farms, 23077 State Road 7

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