Pumpjacks around the country continue to pump oil, which is is refined into gasoline. Drivers, however continue to watch prices rise as refineries work to meet the demand.
                                 Associated Press

Pumpjacks around the country continue to pump oil, which is is refined into gasoline. Drivers, however continue to watch prices rise as refineries work to meet the demand.

Associated Press

<p>The price of gasoline and diesel around Robeson County continues to rise, and fuel watchers are forecasting that drivers will see even higher prices in the near future.</p>
                                 <p>David Kennard | The Robesonian</p>

The price of gasoline and diesel around Robeson County continues to rise, and fuel watchers are forecasting that drivers will see even higher prices in the near future.

David Kennard | The Robesonian

LUMBERTON — The average price of gasoline in Robeson County saw a sharp increase over the weekend, rising to $4.23 per gallon, a cent lower than the average price of gasoline within Lumberton.

Still, even at the record high, local drivers are paying less per gallon than the average price nationally. On Monday, several price tracking sources put the average price per gallon around the country at $4.47.

California remains the leader in high gas prices, where drivers are paying $5.40 on average, higher in some places.

“Those filling their tanks last week saw another jolt at the pump, as both gasoline and diesel prices continued their multi-week rally,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.

De Haan said new records continued to be set on a near daily basis as the national average edges even closer to $4.50 per gallon.

“Prices later this week could be closer to $5 per gallon than $4, as demand continues to edge higher and inventories of both gasoline and diesel continue to decline, temperatures warm and motorists get back outside and we near the Memorial Day weekend, the start of the summer driving season.

“While the increases may start to slow in the days ahead as pump prices catch up to oil, there isn’t much reason to be optimistic that we’ll see a plunge any time soon,” De Haan said.

Crude oil prices were seen trading slightly lower in early Monday trade, even as China announced it would begin to reopen Shanghai, its largest city, after Covid lockdowns reduced oil demand, according to a report from GasBuddy.com.

“A barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil was down 64 cents in early Monday trade to $109.85, but still a $2+ gain on last Monday’s $107.19 level,” De Haan said. “Brent crude oil was down 68 cents in early trade to $110.87 per barrel, down about 70 cents from last Monday’s $110.14 print. Oil has continued to swing wildly as headlines change expectations for oil consumption in months ahead, and as governing bodies continue to react to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

AAA put the national average price of gasoline just 1 cent higher ($4.48) than Gasbuddy.com.

“Three states — Georgia, Kansas and Oklahoma — are still holdouts for crossing the $4 per gallon mark,” according to a media statement released Monday to news outlets. “The national average for a gallon of gasoline is now $4.48. The increase is primarily due to the high cost of crude oil, which is hovering near $110 a barrel.”

“The high cost of oil, the key ingredient in gasoline, is driving these high pump prices for consumers,” said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson. “Even the annual seasonal demand dip for gasoline during the lull between spring break and Memorial Day, which would normally help lower prices, is having no effect this year.”

According to new data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), total domestic gasoline stocks decreased by 3.6 million bbl to 225 million bbl last week, according to AAA. Gasoline demand also decreased slightly from 8.86 million b/d to 8.7 million b/d. Typically, lower demand would put downward pressure on pump prices. However, crude prices remain volatile, and as they surge, pump prices follow suit. Pump prices will likely face upward pressure as oil prices stay above $105 per barrel.

Meanwhile, the AAA report stated that the switch to the more expensive summer blend of gasoline, which usually adds 7-10 cents per gallon depending on the market, is happening now. This switchover should be complete nationwide by early June.

“This summer blend switch is an annual event. It is unrelated to the Biden Administration’s announcement a few weeks ago to allow the higher ethanol E15 gas blend to remain on sale throughout the summer until September,” AAA stated.

Contact David Kennard at [email protected]