Crude and national gas price average soon to top 2020’s highest

(February 17, 2021) WASHINGTON, D.C. — Crude oil and pump prices will soon be more expensive than the highest price of 2020 despite low demand. At the end of last week, crude was priced at $59.4 a barrel. That’s just under $4 per barrel less than last year’s most expensive price of $63.27 a barrel (seen on Jan. 6, 2020). Since the end of November, we’ve seen the price of crude increase as much as $5 a barrel a week, meaning we could see 2021 crude oil prices top 2020 as early as this week.

With the price of crude consistently increasing, so have gas prices because crude oil accounts for more than 50% of the price at the pump. Nearly 40 state gas price averages are already more than last year, with half of those averages seeing double-digit increases.

“Crude, not demand, has been the main factor driving gas price increases this year,” said Jeanette Casselano McGee, AAA spokesperson. “Today’s average is $2.51, which is just seven cents less than the most expensive national gas price average in 2020.”

Demand has averaged 7.7 million barrels a day since January. The last time it measured below 8 million barrels a day during the first six weeks of the year was 2001.

Just how expensive gas will get this year is largely dependent on crude price and demand. The price of crude is still $10–$12 a barrel less than when the national average was last near $3 a gallon in 2018. In order for prices to be that expensive again this spring or summer, AAA believes that a major spike in demand, returning to normal peak driving season levels, and crude sustaining at very high prices will be required.

Quick stats

    •    The nation’s top 10 largest monthly increases: Idaho (+20 cents), Wisconsin (+19 cents), Illinois (+19 cents), Utah (+18 cents), Nebraska (+18 cents), Missouri (+17 cents), Connecticut (+17 cents), Oklahoma (+17 cents), West Virginia (+16 cents) and Florida (+16 cents).

    •    The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets: Mississippi ($2.17), Texas ($2.21), Louisiana ($2.22), Alabama ($2.24), Arkansas ($2.26), Oklahoma ($2.27), Missouri ($2.27), South Carolina ($2.28), Tennessee ($2.28) and Kansas ($2.32).