By: Ragina C Ali, AAA Mid-Atlantic
One side-effect of the COVID-19 virus can be seen at gas pumps, both locally and nationally. Pump prices across Maryland are between 15 and 28 cents lower than this time last year. If crude prices remain low, motorists will likely see continued relief at the pump during the run-up to spring as the world grapples with how to contain the global public health threat and financial risks associated with COVID-19.
The gas price average in Maryland today is $2.26, which is down respectively 10 cents in the last week, five cents in the last month, and 24 cents from this date last year.
Today’s national gas price average is $2.30, down respectively 10 cents in the last week, 12 cents in the last month, and 21 cents from this time last year.
CURRENT AND PAST GAS PRICE AVERAGES
Regular Unleaded Gasoline
|Today||Week Ago||Month Ago||Year Ago|
|Washington Suburbs(MD only)||$2.38||$2.45||$2.44||$2.55|
|Crude Oil||$31.73per barrel(3/12/20)||$41.28per barrel(3/6/20)||$52.05per barrel(2/14/20)||$58.52per barrel(3/15/19)|
At the close of NYMEX trading Friday, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil settled at $31.73 per barrel, $9.55 lower than last Friday’s close. It was a bumpy week as oil prices fell Monday by the most in one day since the 1991 Gulf War, bounced back up Tuesday then dropped again Wednesday and Thursday and finally gaining 23 cents by Friday as the market reacted to worries over the coronavirus, the Trump administration’s travel restrictions and the indecision by OPEC and its partners to reduce oil production. Until the price war ends and fears about the impact of COVID-19 on global crude demand subside, domestic crude prices are likely to remain low.
“Pump prices continue to decline as the global economy faces significant downward pressure from COVID-19 fears and the ongoing crude price war,” says Ragina C. Ali, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Gas prices usually increase in the spring due to an increase in demand and lower supply, but this year drivers could continue to see lower prices.”
The Week Ahead
In addition to virus fears, an oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia has added to market concerns as both countries announced efforts this week to increase crude exports while global crude demand is forecasted to decline due to COVID-19. Dumping cheap crude oil into the frenzied global market could help both countries gain individual market share, but the reduced price for oil has forced domestic energy companies to slash budgets and investments. Although these events have pushed oil prices lower, to the benefit of consumers, continued oil market turmoil and sustained cheap crude prices could ignite further market erosion that leads to a recession.