WASHINGTON – U.S. drivers faced their first rise in gasoline costs in three months as the national average pump price increased a penny over the last week to $2.22 a gallon, the government said on Monday.
The average price for regular unleaded gasoline is still close to the lowest level since last December and 26 cents less than a year ago, according to the Energy Information Administration's weekly survey of service stations.
After reaching a summer high of $3.04 a gallon on August 7, the pump price had declined 83 cents, dropping for a record 11 weeks in a row.
The rise in the latest gasoline price mirrors last week's increase in crude oil costs, after a government report showed an unexpected, large drop in U.S. oil and petroleum product inventories and market concerns emerged about a possible al Qaeda attack on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities.
The price of crude oil accounts for about half the cost of making gasoline. The new jump at the pump could be short-lived as oil settled down $2.39, or nearly 4 percent, to $58.36 a barrel in Monday trading at the New York Mercantile Exchange after traders became less worried about a threat of terror attacks on Saudi oil sites.
In the EIA's new weekly survey, West Coast service stations had the most expensive gasoline by region, down 4.5 cents to $2.41 a gallon. Los Angeles had the highest pump price among cities at $2.42 a gallon, down 4.6 cents.
The cheapest gasoline was again along the Gulf Coast at $2.10 a gallon, up 1.1 cents. Houston had the best deal at the pump at $2.02, up 1.3 cents.
The EIA also reported that prices were down 4.2 cents in San Francisco at $2.41, down 6.8 cents in Seattle at $2.39, down 1.7 cents in Miami at $2.31, up 4.1 cents in Chicago at $2.27, up 0.4 cent in New York City at $2.18, down 3.5 cents in Denver at $2.15 and up 0.2 cent in Boston at $2.15.
Separately, the EIA said the price truckers paid for diesel fuel fell a slight 0.7 cent to $2.52 a gallon, down 36 cents from a year ago.
Service stations in the central Atlantic states charged the most for diesel at an average $2.65 a gallon, down half a penny. The Gulf Coast states had the cheapest diesel at $2.46, down 1.5 cents.