CINCINNATI — — At $70 a barrel, crude oil has increased to its highest price since October 2018 and is now $23/bbl more expensive than it was this past January.

Crude prices have steadily climbed this year along with optimism for the COVID-19 vaccine and the promising impact it will have for global gasoline demand.

“Motorists are paying, on average, 37% more to fill up than the start of the year,” said Jenifer Moore, AAA spokesperson. “Prices for the rest of the month are likely to push more expensive, but if crude production increases, as forecasted, there is the possibility of seeing some relief at the pump later this summer.”

At $3.12 cents, Cincinnati area drivers are seeing an average increase of 17 cents at the pump on the week and 23 cents on the month. Statewide, gas prices (3.02) are up an average of 10 cents, landing Ohio on AAA’s Top 10 Largest Weekly Changes List.

Market analyst are keeping a close eye on global supply and demand levels. They are especially eager to see if the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and its allies including Russia, follow through with production increases next month.

This move could help put downward pressure on crude prices and, in turn, push gas prices less expensive. However, motorists likely would not see any impact at the pump until mid-to-late July.

Today’s national gas price average is $3.08, which is three cents more on the week, a nickel more on the month and 98 cents more on the year.

The latest increases at the pump are attributed to the steady climb in crude prices, especially as demand decreased (−670,000 b/d) and supply increased (+7 million bbl), according to the latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) data.

The decrease in demand was surprising as it reflects the Memorial Day holiday, which was expected to inject higher gasoline demand.

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