Motorists in the central area of the coast continue to see gas prices take away a bit from their budget, as some local averages earn up to six cents in the last seven days.
Gasoline inventories fell this week, while demand for gas is expected to increase for Memorial Day holidays next week. In addition, the price of oil (the biggest stressor on pump prices) remains above $ 71 per barrel, $ 20 more than last year.
The national average for Sunday's gas is $ 2.92, which represents an increase of five cents in the last week. It went up 17 cents in the last month and 57 cents more than last year.
At the close of NYMEX's trading on Friday, West Texas Intermediate crude oil reached $ 71.28 per barrel, 58 cents more than the previous week.
Oil prices climbed to new highs for 2018 last week, following President Trump's decision to re-impose economic sanctions on Iran and withdraw the United States from the Iran Nuclear Agreement. Established in 2015, the agreement lifted economic sanctions in exchange for Iran reducing its nuclear program.
Some of the sanctions prior to 2015 targeted the Iranian energy sector and impeded Iran's ability to sell oil. With the imposition of these sanctions in the next three to six months, Iran's crude exports are forecast to decrease, which will contribute to the already dwindling global supplies of crude amid rising global demand. Rising fears of instability in the region may push oil prices even further.
"The unofficial start of summer is less than a week away and motorists are preparing to go to the roads," said Tammy Arnette, public affairs specialist AAA Mid-Atlantic. "Although pump prices are probably the highest since 2014, AAA projects the highest volume of weekend commemorative holiday trips since 2005."
While AAA expects the majority of American drivers to pay the highest gas prices since 2014, the vast majority of holiday travelers (88 percent) still plan to hit the road. Car trips will grow 4.7 percent on Memorial Day, with 36.6 million Americans planning a road trip. In total, AAA projects that nearly 42 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from their home this weekend of Memorial Day. There are two million more travelers than last year who took roads, skies, rails and water, creating the largest volume of Memorial Day trips in more than a dozen years. The Memorial Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, May 24 to Monday, May 28.