Kansas motorists are staring at the highest gasoline prices in four years as they head into the summer travel season, analysts are saying. But, with a state average of $2.54 per gallon Sunday, pump prices may be nearing their peak.
“The national average is now at its highest point since November 2014 with average gas prices advancing in nearly every state,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “The only good news for motorists? We’re nearing a turning point in the U.S. — gas prices are perhaps just a dime away from hitting a peak for the short-term.”
Looking at the per-gallon price landscape, average retail gasoline prices in Kansas have risen 4.7 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.54, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 1,329 gas outlets in Kansas. This compares with the national average that has increased 4.3 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.81.
In Great Bend, the price came in at $2.57 at most locations. In the area, the price was $2.52 at Lyons and at Russell.
The lowest prices in the state were reported at $2.35 and Columbus and $2.37 at Newton. The highest were in Howard at $2.79 and Mayetta at $2.76.
In a bit of good news, AAA reported Kansas has the sixth cheapest average gas prices in the nation this week. Oklahoma has the cheapest at $2.52, while California and Hawaii are highest at $3.61.
“Motorists have been spoiled the past few years with inexpensive gas prices,” said Shawn Steward, AAA Kansas spokesman. “We expect prices to continue increasing, potentially another 10 cents, through Memorial Day and then will likely stabilize during the summer, with the understanding that if demand spikes, prices are likely to follow.”
Monday’s national gas price average is 16 cents more expensive than last month and 43 cents more expensive that last year at this time, AAA reported.
The plateauing of gas prices hinges in part on OPEC’s meeting in June, DeHaan said. “With refineries well positioned for the summer months, we look for some relief by mid-June, but do expect this summer to remain one of the priciest in the last few as average prices climb close to the psychological $3 per gallon barrier.”
On the week, gasoline demand took a notable drop from its record high the previous week, falling by 774,000 barrels per day, according to the Energy Information Administration. At 9.083 million b/d, gasoline demand is now more in line with rates typically seen during the spring driving season.
Of the 10 Kansas cities regularly highlighted by AAA Kansas, eight cities saw gas price increases in the past week. Topeka remained flat, while Salina actually fell 3 cents per gallon. Lawrence (+13 cents), Kansas City, Kan. (+12) and Hays (+11) saw the largest weekly increases. Wichita registered the 12th lowest metro area gas prices in the nation, while Manhattan came in as 51st lowest metro.
According to the AAA, in November 2014, pump prices averaged $3.34, peaking at $3.70 in April and bottoming out at $2.25 in December. This year’s pump prices will not be reminiscent of 2014, but for motorists, filling-up is packing an unwanted punch to wallets.
Including the change in gas prices in Kansas during the past week, prices Sunday were 33.4 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 8.6 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 15.2 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 42.9 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.
According to GasBuddy historical data, gasoline prices on April 30 in Kansas have ranged widely over the last five years: $2.21 in 2017, $1.98 in 2016, $2.35 in 2015, $3.50 in 2014 and $3.34 in 2013.