Tuesday February 19, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- Gas prices continue to rise nationally, but in Massachusetts the increase has slowed somewhat.

Following two weekly increases of 14 cents and 9 cents for a gallon of self-serve unleaded, gas prices in Massachusetts rose only 4 cents in the week, according to AAA Southern New England.

A gallon of self-serve unleaded averages $3.72 across Massachusetts, according to AAA.

The state price is a smidgen under the national average of $3.73 per gallon, but is 12 cents higher than the average price in Massachusetts at this time last year.

Nationally, gas prices have risen for 32 consecutive days to reach the $3.73 mark, according to AAA, an overall increase of 13 percent.

In Massachusetts, AAA spokeswoman Mary Maguire said the increase in the gas price wasn’t as steep this week because the price for a barrel of crude oil is beginning to level off.

Two-thirds of the cost of one gallon of gas comes from the price of crude oil, which has increased 10 percent during the last two months, according to the Energy Information Administration.

"The earlier steep increases that we had reflected the climb to the middle $90s for a barrel of oil," Maguire said. "Now that we’re evening off at $95 to $96 a barrel, the prices are starting to moderate.

"I also think some of the refinery capacity is coming back from the impact of Superstorm Sandy," she said.

OPEC, the cartel of petroleum exporting companies, is also believed to have cut production by 1 million barrels a day in the last few months, partly in response to rising oil production prices in other places, including the United States, according to CNN.

In Pittsfield on Monday, the price for a gallon of unleaded self-serve ranged from $3.63 to $3.79 per gallon, according to MassachusettsGasPrices.com.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6224.