That glorious six-week run of declining pump prices has ended in Western Pennsylvania.

The average charge for a gallon of unleaded self-serve rose 3.4 cents this week, to $2.884, AAA East Central announced Monday afternoon. Fuel in the region dropped a total of 25.3 cents over the previous six weeks. But despite the bump upward, this latest average is 17.2 cents lower than it was a year ago.

Washington’s price jumped 5.9 cents this week, from $2.851 to $2.910 – more than wiping out the 5.7-cent decrease the city experienced last week. That is the 14th-lowest price among 22 Western Pennsylvania cities and towns monitored by AAA, down from 11th a week ago.

Three towns posted an average below $2.80. Altoona, for the ninth week in a row, has the cheapest average, $2.730, followed by New Castle ($2.774) and Butler ($2.780). Warren ($2.959) has the most expensive fuel, slightly higher than Brookville ($2.948).

Pennsylvania’s average remained at $2.84, the 11th most-expensive average among states. The national average dropped two cents to $2.66, which also is 18 cents cheaper than a month ago and a year ago.

Inventories fell for the second week in a row, according to the Energy Information Administration. They dropped 1.3 million barrels to 62.1 billion.

Because Philadelphia Energy Solution’s facility is operating at reduced levels and because of unplanned maintenance at United Refining’s refinery in Warren, EIA said it expects gasoline stocks and regional refinery utilization to drop. EIA, however, said those circumstances should have moderate impacts on prices.

Business Writer

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won eight individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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