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Myra P. Saefong

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Feb. 22, 2021, 2:03 p.m. EST

Gasoline prices log strongest stretch of gains since Hurricane Harvey, amid Texas deep freeze

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Myra P. Saefong

Gasoline prices have climbed for a seventh week in a row, at their fastest weekly pace since 2017, but drivers will soon see a reprieve at the pump, according to travel and navigation app GasBuddy.

The national average price for regular gasoline rose by 10.4 cents a gallon over the past week to $2.63 on Monday, GasBuddy reported Monday — the fastest pace since Hurricane Harvey in 2017 disrupted refinery activity on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

“With last week’s extreme cold shutting down millions of barrels per day in refinery capacity, gas prices have seen their largest weekly climb in quite some time,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, commented on Monday. “The jump in price was the result of a dozen or so refineries, primarily in Texas, that were forced to shut down as the frigid temperatures threatened to wreak havoc on their exposed equipment.”

In a note dated Friday, analysts at Cowen estimated that 4.7 million barrels per day of U.S. refining capacity was shutdown.

Price increases for gasoline should begin to slow later this week or next week, as long as these refineries “get back online in short order,” and we may see prices start to move back down in the next couple of weeks, said De Haan.

However, as warmer spring weather nears, the market is likely to “see another longer-term rise in prices begin” as refineries start to transition to summer gasoline, he said. “So motorists shouldn’t jump for joy just yet.”

The rise in retail gasoline prices comes on the heels of gains in crude-oil prices, with U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery /zigman2/quotes/211629951/delayed CL.1 -0.02% up $1.76, or 3%, at $61 a barrel and global benchmark April Brent crude up $1.78, or 2.8%, at $64.69 in Monday dealings . Brent is poised for its highest settlement since January 2020. GasBuddy attributed part of that oil-price climb to Goldman Sachs predicting that crude oil will rise into the $70s in the coming months.

Read: Oil prices will rally ‘sooner and higher.’ Expect $75 Brent crude this year, says Goldman Sachs

Data from GasBuddy on U.S. gasoline demand revealed a drop for the week ending Feb. 20, with national demand for the fuel down by 10%.

As of Monday afternoon, average U.S. regular gas prices stood at $2.639 a gallon, up roughly 25 cents a gallon from a month ago, and nearly 16 cents higher than a year ago, GasBuddy data showed .

US : U.S.: Nymex
$ 64.70
-0.01 -0.02%
Volume: 6,004
May 6, 2021 9:08p

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Myra P. Saefong is on the markets team in San Francisco. She has covered the commodities sector for MarketWatch for more than 10 years. She has spent the...

Myra P. Saefong is on the markets team in San Francisco. She has covered the commodities sector for MarketWatch for more than 10 years. She has spent the bulk of her years at the company writing the daily Futures Movers and Metals Stocks columns and has been writing the weekly Commodities Corner column since 2005. Myra has been with MarketWatch since 1998 and holds a master’s degree in English literature.

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