Local gas prices expected to keep rising: Here's why

·4 min read

Mar. 4—Gas prices may seem high right now, but they're likely to keep on climbing for the next several months.

The latest price jumps are a direct result of February's winter storm that took 26 U.S. refineries offline

"In addition to that, we're going into the spring and when we get to a certain point, we're not there yet but it won't be long now, where the refineries have to switch over to producing the summer blends of gas," said AAA spokeswoman Cindy Antrican. "It's a different blend that's more expensive to produce. The reason that you switch is to reduce evaporation."

As that switch is occurring, so is scheduled maintenance, automatically causing some increase to prices, Antrican said.

Prices are continuing to rise in Ohio and nationwide despite a drop in travel demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline as of Wednesday was $2.74. Drivers were also paying an average of $2.42 a gallon a year ago at this time.

Gas prices continue to increase, with the national average up nine cents on the week to $2.74. That is a 31-cent increase from a month ago, 32 cents more than a year ago and the most expensive daily national average since August 2019, according to AAA.

Gas prices in Ohio, Dayton, Springfield and Cincinnati regions are below the national average, according to AAA. Ohio's average was $2.68, up 44 cents from a month ago and while a year ago at this time it was $2.24.

Average gas prices for a gallon of regular gas Wednesday in the Dayton, Springfield and Cincinnati areas were $2.68, $2.70 and $2.72, respectively. A year ago in those areas it was $2.18, $2.13 and $2.17, respectively.

"Where we live in Ohio ... for whatever reason, our prices tend to be quite volatile," Antrican said. "(Gas prices) are up now, and it is painful, but the good news is, many people are not driving as much, so overall it's not as much a hit on the budget for some people."

AAA forecasts the national gas price average to hit at least $2.80 this month. The national gas price average is likely to hit the $3 mark by Memorial Day and hover around that price for the majority of the summer, Antrican said.

Hurricane season, which starts in June, might further affect gas prices because oil refineries typically shut down before a hurricane arrives, she said.

"You can't have those refineries up and running and have water come in," Antrican said.

Prices should ease back around September for two reasons: the end of the summer travel season decreasing demand and refineries making the move to revert back to winter blends of fuel, which are less expensive to produce.

The national average price of gasoline has risen for the eighth straight week, according to GasBuddy, a tech company that operates apps and websites based on finding real-time fuel prices at gas stations.

The states with the lowest average prices are Mississippi ($2.35), Louisiana ($2.37) and Texas ($2.39), according to GasBuddy data released earlier this week. The states with the highest average prices are California ($3.67), Hawaii ($3.41) and Washington ($3.08).

The highest price in the Dayton and Springfield areas on Wednesday were $2.77 and $2.71, according to GasBuddy. The lowest price in both areas as $2.52.

Several other factors will rise in their influence on gas prices again, including the fact that gasoline demand continues to rise, according to Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.

"According to Pay with GasBuddy data, last week's total gasoline demand soared to the highest level since the pandemic began as COVD-19 cases continue to drop and Americans are filling up more," DeHaan said Monday on the GasBuddy site. "On the supply side, the number of oil rigs active in the U.S. stands nearly 50 percent lower than a year ago, which is a large factor driving prices up. To put it simply, demand is recovering much much faster than oil production levels, which is why oil prices have soared."

SUMMING IT UP

—Gas prices continue to increase, with the national average up nine cents on the week to $2.74.

—That is a 31-cent increase from a month ago, 32 cents more than a year ago and the most expensive daily national average since August 2019.

—The latest price jumps are a direct result of February's winter storm that took 26 U.S. refineries offline and pushed refinery utilization from an average of about 83% down to an atypical low of 68%, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

—AAA forecasts the national gas price average to hit at least $2.80 in March.

—Ohio gas average is up 34 cents since a month ago. The current average is $2.68.

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