The federal Energy Information Administration said Monday that U.S. motorists paid $2.783 a gallon on average for regular grade last week, an increase of 10 cents from the previous week. Pump prices are 54.6 cents higher than a year ago.
Average retail gasoline prices peaked at $3.07 a gallon last September, reflecting the extreme tightness in the market following Hurricane Katrina, which knocked out refineries in the Gulf region as well as pipelines that deliver fuel to the East Coast and Midwest.
Gasoline prices were most expensive last week on the West Coast, averaging $2.843 per gallon, and cheapest in the Rocky Mountain region, averaging $2.565 per gallon.
One of the key factors underpinning the high price of gasoline is the cost of crude oil, which has been elevated by strong demand, tight global supplies and geopolitical uncertainties. And the usual pre-summer gasoline supply worries are heightened this year by the prospect of tight supplies of ethanol, which is needed in increasing amounts as refiners phase out their use of an additive called methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE, which has been found to contaminate drinking water.
Monday of $70.40 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, an increase of 40 percent from a year ago. Gasoline futures closed at $2.1697 per gallon, or roughly 46 percent above year-ago levels.