Gas prices are going up again

Photo (c) Hasan Serhat Bozkurt - Getty Images

Several states, including California, are seeing double digit increases in less than a week

After weeks of falling prices, the average price of gasoline is going up again. Industry experts say there are a lot of different reasons.

AAA’s daily fuel price survey shows the national average price of regular gas is $3.74 a gallon. That’s two cents more than Monday and seven cents a gallon more than seven days ago.

But oil prices are near a nine-month low. Oil prices began ticking slightly higher at the start of the week over concerns that Hurricane Ian could cause problems for Gulf Coast oil refineries. But the rise in gas prices appears to have other triggers that vary from region to region.

In Wisconsin, for example, prices have surged in recent days because of a refinery fire in Toledo, Ohio. That refinery supplied much of the state, which is now scrambling to find alternate sources of fuel that cost more. According to AAA, the statewide average price at the pump in Wisconsin is up 42 cents a gallon in just the last seven days.

Unplanned maintenance in California

California has the highest gas prices in the nation and those prices got higher this week. AAA reports the statewide average has surged 43 cents a gallon in just the last seven days.

“Right now, what we're having is unexpected and planned maintenance in California,” John Treanor, a spokesperson with AAA, told KXTV-TV in Sacramento. "Oil refineries have to have maintenance and inspections every three to five years, so they plan this out. They take a whole oil refinery offline and allow them to be maintained and inspected.”

Wisconsin and California alone are enough to boost the national average price of regular gas but other states are also contributing. In Michigan, the average price of regular is $4.12 a gallon, a more than 30 cents a gallon increase in the last week. In Ohio, the average price has increased 21 cents a gallon over the last seven days.

Why prices fell in the first place

Energy experts say gas prices have fallen in recent weeks for several reasons. Oil prices have been lower because the Biden administration has released record amounts of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve. That has made up for some of the supply shortages caused by Russia’s war with Ukraine.

After gas prices reached a record high in June, Americans began driving less. Falling demand for gasoline helped bring down prices, industry analysts say.

“Slack demand and lower oil prices should take some pressure off rising gas prices,” said Andrew Gross, AAA’s spokesperson. “But Hurricane Ian could cause problems, depending on the storm’s track, by disrupting oil production in the Gulf of Mexico and impacting large coastal refineries.” 

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