Demand, market pressures drive gas prices

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – According to the AAA East Central West Virginia Gas Price Report, average gas prices in the region are following the national lead and many are at or over $3.00 per gallon.

Senior specialist in public and government affairs for AAA, Morgan Dean said the price increase is mirroring a shift in demand compared to last year.

“There was an abundant supply last year, people weren’t driving as much and demand was super low,” Dean said,” So, prices were very, very low last year.”

This week OPEC members failed to reach a deal for production numbers and indefinitely postponed future negotiations. The lack of a deal resulted in a spike of crude oil prices on the world market.

“We’re actually closing in on a seven-year high for crude oil, crude oil is about to hit $76,” Dean said,” The national gas price average that came along with that seven years ago was about $3.25 and we think that’s where we’re headed in the next couple of weeks nationally.”

Here is a list of average prices in other West Virginia locations:

$3.099 Bridgeport
$3.082 Clarksburg
$3.068 Huntington
$3.098 Martinsburg
$2.980 Morgantown
$3.073 Parkersburg
$3.072 Weirton
$3.073 Wheeling

Regional gas prices can be influenced by large companies. Large companies can control deliveries and control average gas prices in cities like Morgantown due to the market share they possess.

“Sometimes it really does come down to whether the store belongs to a chain that buys in bulk and gets deliveries on certain days,” Dean said,” Where they get from and where they get their gas.”

Companies not only have market share as a strategy, but also employ other ways to use gas prices as an enticement.

“The guy that’s sitting out there getting gas is probably sending the kids in the store and they’ll buy candy bars and get him a cup of coffee and they’re going to buy something that will make them a lot more money,” Dean said,” So, even though they lose a few pennies at the pump, they’re making it back inside on candy and soda.”

Over the last year, many families have been stranded at home with lockdowns, stay at home and safe at home orders. The condition has created a new term in the travel industry, according to Dean.

“We’ve been using the term “revenge travel” this year- it sounds tawdry and weird, but it’s really just making up for lost time last year,” Dean said,” Even though gas prices are hovering around $3.00 or just above, they’re going to go.”

Price trends suggest robust demand could drive gas prices up another 10 to 20 cents through August.