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U.S. gas prices remain relatively stable
by Daniel J. Graeber
Washington (UPI) Feb 14, 2017

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

Retail gasoline prices in the United States continue to hold steady despite regional fluctuations because oil markets in are limbo, a market survey found.

Motor club AAA reports an average retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline at $2.28, only a fraction of a cent higher than the previous day and less than a percent, or about 2 cents, higher than one week ago.

By region, the West Coast markets remains the most expensive in the country with California holding the honors of the state in the Lower 48 with the highest price for gas at $2.87 per gallon. AAA data indicates some price hikes may be in store for this market because of a decline in gasoline inventories and unplanned maintenance at a Chevron refinery in El Segundo, Calif. The company's Richmond, Calif., refinery closed last week because of issues with production infrastructure.

The Great Lakes states, meanwhile, remain the most volatile market in the country, with Indiana's state average price of $2.19 per gallon representing a 5.5 percent, or 12 cent, increase. The regional trend may reverse, however, as gasoline inventories in the area are elevated even as a Husky Energy refinery in Ohio closes for regular maintenance.

Gasoline prices usually reflect crude oil prices, which have been stuck in a narrow band around $55 per barrel since late last year. The price point for crude oil has been stuck between competing market trends triggered by a decision by the Organization of Petroleum Countries to put a cap on collective oil production as of January.

OPEC's decision was aimed at balancing a maturated saturated with oil, though by establishing a floor on crude oil prices, it brought energy companies back to more expensive reserves areas like U.S. shale.

This week, OPEC reported it was in near-full compliance with the agreement.

"Despite production cuts by OPEC, the market remains overfed due to increased U.S. drilling and production," the market report from AAA read.

Oil prices dropped nearly 2 percent in Monday trading.

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