WASHINGTON – The national gas price average has risen for the sixth consecutive week, landing this week at $2.61. That’s 18 cents more expensive since prices started the upward trend in late-December, and 3 cents more than January 29.
“Every motorist in the country is paying more at the pump year-over-year. At 18 cents, Utah is seeing the smallest increase and California is feeling the biggest increase at 52 cents compared to the same time last year,” said Jeanette Casselano with AAA, in a press release. “Strong demand coupled with steadily rising oil prices means filling up will continue to cost consumers more this month. In fact, the last time the national gas price average was this high, but under $3/gallon in February was in 2010.”
The largest monthly changes in the nation’s top 10 markets are: Iowa (+22 cents), California (+21 cents), Minnesota (+19 cents), Nebraska (+18 cents), Kansas (+17 cents), North Dakota (+17 cents), Oklahoma (+17 cents), Florida (+16 cents), Louisiana (+16 cents) and Missouri (+16 cents). The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are: Texas ($2.36), Mississippi ($2.37), South Carolina ($2.37), Alabama ($2.37), Missouri ($2.38), Arizona ($2.38), Arkansas ($2.39), Tennessee ($2.41), Oklahoma ($2.42) and New Mexico ($2.43).
“While we could see some small discounts this month, those will likely be erased as we move into refinery maintenance season,” AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said in the Sun-Sentinel. “Typically maintenance season reaches its peak in mid-March. This results in reduced refinery output and rising prices at the pump.”
Refineries begin to switch over to the more expensive summer blends during the spring maintenance season. Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.com, told the Sun-Sentinel that average gas prices will jump another 25 cents to 50 cents a gallon by Memorial Day. AAA predicts gasoline price hikes of up to 75 cents per gallon ahead of the unofficial start of summer.