Fuel prices hold steady

Continued efforts by the European Union, U.S., U.K., and Canada to curb Iran’s nuclear program continue to create tension between the countries and pushed oil prices to $100 a barrel in the past two weeks. The goal is to make it harder for Iran’s leaders to receive payment for their crude exports in an effort to cut funds to the country so it can’t sustain its nuclear program. Crude oil settled Friday at $99.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange—$1.55 less than the week prior.

While tensions with Iran caused oil prices to rise, the Department of Energy released bearish news that both crude and fuel inventories increased during the week of November 27. Stockpiles of crude oil increased 1.3 million barrels that week to 336 million—a 10-week high. Crude stockpiles were forecast to decrease that week by 1.2 million barrels. Gasoline demand remains weak with supplies increasing by 5 million barrels to 215 million, the highest level since July 29.

“Although oil prices have traded around $100 a barrel during the past two weeks, retail gas prices have shown little movement,” said Jessica Brady, AAA spokesperson, The Auto Club Group. “The national average remains unchanged from last week and it’s unlikely we will see pump prices increase much, if at all, this week. A lot is happening around the globe that is putting both upward and downward pressure on oil prices, making it hard for any consistent trending in the market.”

The national average price of regular unleaded gasoline is the same as last Sunday at $3.27 per gallon. Florida’s average price of $3.30, Georgia’s average of $3.21, and Tennessee’s average price of $3.10 all increased 2 cents from last week, respectively.