Charlotte, N.C. (December 21, 2020) – While prices are not the most expensive that we’ve seen this year, pump prices across the Carolinas are pushing more expensive as we head into the last weeks of the year.
“Recent pump prices are a bit surprising when we take into consideration December demand numbers are the lowest posted for the month since 1999,” said Tiffany Wright, spokesperson, AAA – The Auto Club Group in the Carolinas. “These prices will likely be short-lived since holiday road travel is expected to see a major cutback this year.”
North Carolina’s gas price average currently sits at $2.06, seeing a 6-cent increase on the week. This is 12 cents more expensive than a month ago, but 35 cents cheaper than last year. South Carolina’s gas price average currently sits at $2.00, seeing an 8-cent increase on the week. This is 13 cents more expensive than a month ago, but 28 cents cheaper than last year. South Carolina also made the nation’s top 10 largest weekly increases.
Since Monday, the national gas price average has jumped 6 cents to $2.22, the highest national average since mid-September. This average is 11 cents more expensive than last month, but 33 cents cheaper than last year.
Two factors that have contributed to driving up prices at the pump are rising crude oil prices and tightening supply. The domestic price of crude has been steadily rising since November, with prices topping $49/bbl. Prices have not been this expensive since February, before stay-at-home orders were introduced across the country. Prices began to rise last month alongside vaccination news and have only increased with it becoming available.
While a healthy supply, the year-over-year surplus has been much greater through the last nine months. This fact combined with low utilization rates, which are down 11%, indicates supply could tighten in weeks ahead especially with refinery consolidations in the northwest and maintenance in the upper Midwest.
However, demand still remains at an extremely low level. AAA believes this factor will impact gas prices, pushing them cheaper in January.
The price of domestic crude oil increased over $2.50 per barrel last week. Crude prices rose due to a weak dollar and increasing investment based on market optimism that COVID vaccines will help crude oil demand recover in 2021. However, for this week, new demand concerns as COVID infection rates continue to climb and travel restrictions increase, could push crude prices lower.
For updated state and metro prices log on to https://gasprices.aaa.com/
About AAA – The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America with more than 14 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 60 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA’s mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety. For more information, get the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.