On Sunday, the average gas price in Tennessee reached $2.64, marking an 18-cent increase from last month and a 51-cent increase from last year. This was the highest average since September, according to analysts.
The national average of $2.81 was the highest in more than three years. While the national gas price average remained the same as of Monday morning, Tennessee’s gas prices went down 3 cents.
Johnson City’s average gas price as of Monday morning was $2.60, and Kingsport-Bristol's average stood at $2.63, making Tri-Cities’ gas prices some of the most expensive in the state.
"Although this was the most expensive April gas prices we've seen in years, fuel is still nearly a dollar less than what we paid in April 2014," AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said in a press release. "The higher prices at the pump are mainly a result of a tightening oil market, which leaves us prone to price hikes based on geopolitical tensions and supply shortage concerns. Crude prices are about 33 percent more expensive than they were this time last year. Expensive oil means expensive gasoline."
The fluctuation in prices and the long-term trends driving gas prices up have caused anxiety among motorists, however.
After March’s average reached a four-year high, the question on many Tennessean motorists’ minds is whether or not we will end up paying $3 a gallon once again.
“We are not anticipating that the national average will hit $3 a gallon again,” spokeswoman Stephanie Milani said. “We typically see this run up in the spring, so this is really nothing out of the ordinary. The higher prices are mainly a result of the tightening oil market.”
Milani said the changes in gas prices are largely the result of four factors:
• OPEC and non-OPEC nations previously agreed to slow production to stabilize oil prices. With oil prices being so low last year and the year before, producers had hoped to control production and “put a floor under gasoline prices.”
• Refineries are getting set to produce summer-blend gasoline, which is more expensive to produce.
• There’s more anxiety over heightened geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.
• Motorists generally travel more during the summer months, creating more demand.
In 2014, April gas prices in Tennessee averaged $3.47; in 2015, those prices fell to $2.21; in 2016, gas prices went down yet again to $1.92; in 2017, gas prices picked back up to $2.15; and now, the monthly April average increased again to $2.51.
For more information on national, state and local gas price trends, visit www.gasprices.aaa.com.