HOUSTON - The average price of gasoline, in Houston, sits at $2.60 gallon, up almost $0.40, from a month ago. While few like to see the price at the pump going up, those fluctuations can be a direct reflection of how well the world is handling its business.
"Oil prices, which were near zero a year ago, have recovered to their pre-pandemic levels," says Houston energy analysts Andy Lipow, who watches these things, for a living.
He says, since last April, when crude prices closed in negative territory because there was so 'little' demand and so 'much' supply. the oil market has slowly and steadily improved.
Lipow points to the ongoing Covid-vaccine roll out, more people are driving, and increasing global demand for oil, as signs of optimism that progress is being made against the pandemic.
"They do see oil demand returning here in the U.S., but they're really concerned with other variant-strains in Europe, that will temper demand," warns Lipow.
That continuing volatility, though, along with regional conflict in the Middle East, does keep uncertainty in the oil market. That's why U.S. producers, OPEC, and other oil-producing countries continue to limit the flow of oil coming from their wells.
With prices far from historic highs and lows, analysts think recent increases are, instead, a good sign.
"We should look at this rebound in oil prices as a reflection of people getting back to work," says Lipow, "They're able to drive and fly, once again."
Increases in gas-prices should be kept in perspective, as well. Quicken Loans reports the average gas tank size, in the U.S. is 12 gallons. That means every one-cent increase totals an extra $0.12 for a full fill-up. And, looking at the $0.40 rise in prices over the last month means, on average, an extra $4.80 for a full tank of gas.