Gas prices rise in Houston area

Average gasoline prices rose by a penny in Greater Houston last week, according to fuel price data compiled by GasBuddy.com.

Local driver paid an average of $2.09 for a gallon of regular unleaded, GasBuddy said, The national average fell by a cent to $2.28.

In the past 30 days, the U.S. benchmark for oil prices has fallen from about $54 a barrel to less than $48 per barrel, keeping fuel prices in check despite refineries making the seasonal shift to costlier summer-grade gasoline.

“Remarkably, for a third straight week, average gasoline prices have declined,” said GasBuddy senior analyst Patrick DeHaan. “In fact, for just the first time since 2009, average gasoline prices today stand cheaper than on Feb. 15 — traditionally the day of the lowest gasoline prices of the season.”

Prices at the pump are about 23 cents a gallon higher than this time last year, but well below the average of $3.37 per gallon as recently as three years ago.

Fuel prices are keeping steady largely because of weaker demand compared to last year, as well as the global oversupply of oil prices keep crude costs lower.

However, fueling stations base their costs in part on their real estate pricing, so gasoline prices are varying from station to station more than usually. The fluctuation are 5 percent higher than a year ago, DeHaan noted.

“So while motorists may be feeling less pressure with stable gas prices, that false sense of security may be getting in the way of finding a gas station selling at a far lower price,” he added. “As always, motorists should be shopping around to be aware of lower priced offerings.”

In Houston, prices are as low as $1.78 a gallon in South Houston and as high as $2.89 near the Galleria.

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