Over the past five days, average retail gasoline prices have risen more than four cents per gallon in Oklahoma and even more dramatically in eight other Heartland states. Since the end of July, pump prices have jumped 13 cents in Ohio and 11 cents in both Indiana and Michigan. These increases can be traced back to refinery problems and maintenance issues at several facilities supplying the region: two in Kansas (HollyFrontier in El Dorado and the CVR plant in Coffeyville), BP’s refinery in Whiting, Ind., and ExxonMobil’s facility in Joliet, Ill.
However, despite these refinery glitches and high-profile conflicts in overseas oil-producing countries, the rest of the nation is enjoying lower prices for gasoline. Tuesday’ nationwide price of $3.47 per gallon is two cents less than one week ago, a nickel below the price at the end of July and eight cents less than on this same date last year, according to FuelGaugeReport.AAA.com.
“While prices in Oklahoma may still move slightly higher over the next week or two, the long-term prognosis looks good,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “Barring any new market-moving developments, I’d expect prices to turn lower again once we approach the September 15 switchover date for winter-blend gasoline production and as refineries get back on track .”
The U.S. has begun flying air strikes in Iraq in response to the continuing escalation of violence by Islamic extremists. Iraq is the world’s seventh-largest oil producer and a disruption in production could impact the global supply. At the same time, tensions between Russia and Ukraine, and the situation in Libya, are also causing oil traders to worry about global stockpiles, although none of these occurrences have resulted in disruptions to supply.
Oil prices continue to trade near multi-month lows. The price of West Texas Intermediate settled 43 cents higher at $98.08 per barrel at the close of formal trading yesterday, which is slightly lower than the price to begin last week and equal to the lowest settlement to begin a week since the start of February.