Houston gasoline prices steadily rising before summer

Source: By Houston Chronicle • Posted: Friday, April 19, 2019

  • Tight gasoline supplies and more expensive summer fuel blends continue to push prices up at the pump. NEXT: See gasoline prices in Texas' biggest cities. Photo: Gene J. Puskar, Associated Press
Photo: Gene J. Puskar, Associated Press

Houston drivers saw gasoline prices jump again last week but they’ve been spared of the big price spikes sweeping the West Coast and much of the nation.

Average gasoline prices jumped 5 cents per a gallon in the past week, hitting $2.56 per a gallon, according to the gasoline tracking website GasBuddy, which surveys 2,559 stations. That’s 25 cents higher than a month ago and 8 cents higher than a year ago.

Nationally gasoline prices are up for the ninth straight week in a row, rising in the past week 7 cents per a gallon to hit$2.83 per a gallon. That’s 29 cents higher than a month ago and 12 cents higher than a year ago. That’s costing Americans $200 million more a day at the pump than the same time last year, according to GasBuddy.

But once again Californians and West Coasters have it the worst thanks to ongoing refinery outages crimping supplies.

“The effect of rising prices isn’t about to let up as a spate of refinery outages on the West Coast and in California has given way to a tightening of summer blended gasoline in advance of the summer driving season set to kick in in the weeks ahead,” said Dan McTeague, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.

“Even with early signs of markets reaching their heights for California-spec fuel, the damage has been done and gas prices are still playing catch up to the highs of April. With California pump prices now firmly over $4 a gallon, the march to $4.15 may be attained in the weeks ahead before any relief, while the rest of the nation faces the prospect of $3 a gallon by month’s end,” McTeague said.

In Texas, pump prices rose in nearly every major metropolitan area but Dallas was the worst hit reaching $2.67 per a gallon, a nearly 15 cent spike in one week. El Paso was hit hard with a nearly 11 cent jump in prices, hitting $2.59 per a gallon. Average prices in Austin were up 6 cents to reach $2.48 per a gallon and in San Antonio average prices were $2.43 per a gallon, a 9 cent jump.

Strong demand and tightening inventories are pushing prices up. Overall, refinery utilization stands at 86 percent compared to 93 percent last year at this time due to unexpected and planned maintenance, according to AAA. But Texas is still one of the states with the cheapest fuel prices.

“Every metropolitan area across Texas saw an increase in gas prices this week,” said Daniel Armbruster, AAA Texas/AAA New Mexico spokesperson. “With spring driving season well underway, demand for retail gasoline is only expected to increase which will likely drive prices at the pump even higher through April.”