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Gas prices climb over $2 for first time this year

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RICHMOND, Va. — The national average price of gas climbed above $2 per gallon for the first time this year, according to analysts with AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Gas prices have increased largely due to seasonal increases in fuel demand and reduced production as some refineries conduct maintenance.

Friday’s average price of $2.03 per gallon has drivers paying six cents more per gallon than a week ago and 31 cents more per gallon than a month ago. Despite retail averages rising, consumers continue to benefit from yearly savings and prices remain 39 cents per gallon cheaper than a year ago.

CURRENT AND PAST GAS PRICE AVERAGES

Regular Unleaded Gasoline (*indicates record high)

Today
3/25/16
Week Ago
3/18/16
Year Ago
3/25/15
National $2.03 $1.97 $2.42
Virginia $1.89 $1.82 $2.23
Charlottesville $1.86 $1.81 $2.23
Norfolk Area $1.88 $1.81 $2.23
Richmond $1.88 $1.84 $2.21
Roanoke $1.88 $1.79 $2.20
Crude Oil $39.46
per barrel
(Thursday 3/24/16 close)
$39.44
per barrel
(Friday 3/18/16 close)
$49.21
per barrel
(3/25/15)

Experts attributed the increase in driving, and gasoline demand, to the warmer weather and more seasonal light.

According to industry experts, this increase in demand comes at the same time that many refineries conduct maintenance to prepare equipment for the busy summer driving season, which leads to a temporary decline in fuel production.

In addition, refineries also begin to transition to summer-blend gasoline, which is more expensive to produce, but mandated due to the fact that it is causes less air pollution at warmer temperatures.

These factors have helped push prices higher in recent weeks.

At the close of Thursday’s formal trading session (markets are closed for Good Friday) on the NYMEX, WTI was up two cents from last week’s Friday close to settle at $39.46 per barrel. Global oil prices are expected to continue to move in response to ongoing discussions by some of the world’s top producers to potentially freeze production, which could be finalized at a meeting scheduled for April 17.

According to the Gas Tracker on WTVR.com, the cheapest gas can be found south of Richmond, in Dinwiddie and Petersburg. The Petrol shop at 20515 Cox Road in Dinwiddie is charging $1.67 a gallon. Nearby, Roy’s Express Mart in Lakeside, at 7605 Staples Mill Road, has $1.74 gasonline.