TAMPA, Fla. — Florida gas prices are inching lower after posting another week of strong gains.
With global demand up and refining capacity down, average gasoline prices have jumped 57 cents a gallon in Florida since the end-of-the-year holidays.
The state average rose 17 cents per gallon last week, reaching a two-month high of $3.58 per gallon on Thursday. That state average then took a minor step back, declining almost two cents through the weekend.
“Florida gas prices surged 32 cents per gallon during the past two weeks,” said Mark Jenkins, public relations manager, for AAA, the Auto Club Group. “It’s unusual to see big gains like this in January, but global fundamentals have kept upward pressure on prices at the pump. Oil investors are bullish that global fuel demand will rise now that China, the world’s largest oil importer, is reopening its economy.”
Part of the reason for the price increase is companies taking crude-oil refineries out of operation for maintenance, reducing the amount of fuel available.
Refineries operated at 95% of capacity as 2022 ended. They are now operating at about 85% of capacity. Meanwhile, global demand has roughly doubled from a year ago, just as China is reopening from COVID-19 restrictions and a European ban on Russian oil products is due to start later this week.
Fueling some hope for drivers is that oil prices declined 2% last week, after rising 10% the previous two weeks. Gasoline futures also declined six cents last week, after skyrocketing 40 cents per gallon the previous two weeks on the NYMEX.
In Florida, the most expensive metro markets are West Palm Beach ($3.74), Sebastian Vero Beach ($3.64) and Port St. Lucia ($3.64). The least expensive metro markets are Panama City ($3.31), Crestview-Fort Walton Beach ($3.32) and Pensacola ($3.40).
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