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Gas prices fluctuate after refinery issues

Staff Report • Jul 17, 2018 at 7:30 AM

Prices at the pump are trending lower after a small jump last week.

Gas prices in Tennessee are 2 cents higher than a week ago, AAA reported. The state average of $2.63 is 10 cents less than this year's high, yet remains 61 cents more than this time last year.

Refinery woes

Pump prices rose last week after reports that seven Gulf Coast refineries were dealing with various operational issues. Some of the issues have already been resolved, while others could take weeks, AAA reported.

For instance, the Motiva refinery — the largest in the country — suffered a mechanical outage to one of their catalytic crackers. This is the most important component for converting oil to other fuels, according to AAA. The outage will likely cause reduced output from the plant and may not be resolved until August.

“Fortunately, fuel prices plunged on the stock market last week, which created adverse pressure (on) the rising prices caused by refinery issues,” said Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman, in a press release. “This sort of volatility at the pump is common during the summer driving season. The three most common reasons for increases during the summer are refinery outages, geopolitical tension and hurricanes.”

Local averages

• Kingsport-Bristol: $2.62

• Johnson City: $2.59

Most expensive gas prices in the state

• Jackson ($2.67)

• Memphis ($2.66)

• Nashville ($2.65)

Least expensive gas prices in the state

• Cleveland ($2.56)

• Chattanooga ($2.56)

• Clarksville-Hopkinsville ($2.57)

What about oil?

On Wednesday, oil prices plummeted nearly $4 and gasoline futures fell 10 cents, though some of those losses were recovered by Friday. Gasoline finished even with the week before, yet oil remained $2.79 lower, AAA reported.

The price for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) settled at $71.01 on the NYMEX, which is $3.14 less than this year's high, set two weeks before. The slump in futures was the result of growing concerns of an international trade war, added strength in the U.S. dollar, lower gasoline demand numbers and news that Libya would resume oil exports.

To view daily gas price averages, visit GasPrices.AAA.com.

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