WACO, TX — Gas prices are ticking up in the Lone Star State and across much of the country due to rising crude prices and a drop in production among refineries affected by the recent string of winter storms along the Gulf Coast.
"They're skyrocketing," Daniel Armbruster, a spokesperson for AAA Texas said. "We haven't seen prices increase like this since after Hurricane Harvey and and the increases we're seeing are similar to what we would see after a hurricane on the Gulf Coast."
According to Armbruster, the statewide average has shot up close to 30 cents in the last month, a figure we haven't seen since 2019. According to gasprices.aaa.com, the statewide gas price average for Regular was up to $2.40, Mid-Grade at $2.70, Premium at $3.00, and Diesel at $2.60.
"The statewide average is now sitting at $2.41, he explained. "But certainly in Waco and pretty much all across Texas, we see gas price averages rise anywhere between 12 to 20 cents just in the last week."
Last week's winter storm resulted in the loss of some four million barrels per in U.S. oil production but is expected to recover relatively soon, said Armbruster.
"That certainly added on to and certainly caused the spikes we're seeing now," Armbruster said. "But those spikes should subside as refinery operations resume normal operations here in the coming days."
On Friday, Reuters reported Exxon Mobil Corp restarted the crude distillation units at it's Beaumont, TX refinery.
Despite the drop in production, Armbruster said the price of crude oil was increasing before the winter blast due to the expectation that demand would be making a steady return as more Americans become vaccinated against COVID-19.
"In fact, most of that's due to the optimism over the COVID-19 vaccine," Armbruster explained. "Also, OPEC plus making some cuts and Saudi Arabia at least temporarily, so that's helped the price of oil go up.Remember, 60% of what we pay at the pump is crude oil, so, you know the price of crude oil makes up the most out of any of the different fields of items that make up what we pay in gas prices."
For now, market participants and analysts will likely be closely following changes in production which should bring stability to pump prices. But according to Armbruster, the change in demand will be just as important in the prices we see at the pump.
"We do know is that you know right now demand for gasoline is falling or at least it fell in the latest report," Armbruster explained. "And so if demand for gasoline doesn't start picking up soon, will likely start to see these prices reverse course, but for now, they're going up, so I'm guessing you know, sort of the doom and gloom."
Despite the doom and gloom some may be encountering at the pump this weekend, Texans are still paying some of the cheapest gas in the country. According to gasprices.aaa.com, the $2.40 state average is the third cheapest in the country. Friday's national average price for regular gas was recorded at $2.70.
"It's certainly something if you're looking for the positive in the story," Armbruster said. "That's one thing to note, is that even though prices have been increasing...in Texas we're paying much less than what most are around the country."