Louisiana Floods, Texas Fire Contribute to Spike in Gas Prices

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CARS.COM — The national average for regular gas jumped up 7 cents a gallon the past week to $2.20, and several states experienced double-digit increases as higher oil prices and lower output from refineries combined to drive up prices. The AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report on Thursday said that regular gas averaged less than $2 a gallon in just five states, down from 11 states a week ago and 15 on Aug. 4.

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U.S. oil prices rallied in recent weeks from less than $40 a barrel to more than $48, though prices were back down to less than $47 in early Thursday trading. At the same time, several U.S. refineries were slowed by a variety of issues.

“This includes a number of refineries in the Gulf Coast that are undergoing unplanned maintenance as a result of flooding in Louisiana and a refinery fire in Texas,” AAA said in a statement. “Drivers in the Midwest and Central U.S. continue to see the most dramatic recent price movement as the impact of outages — including the BP refinery in Whiting, Ind. — has pushed prices higher. The facility is reported to be slowly coming back online, which could allow regional prices to drop back down.”

Increases at the pump were widespread, with only a few states seeing declines. Delaware had the biggest jump the past week, 14 cents, to $2.11. Prices rose by 10 cents or more in Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina and Tennessee.

South Carolina still had the lowest statewide average Thursday, $1.93, according to AAA. Other states averaging less than $2 were Alabama, $1.94; Mississippi, $1.97; Virginia, $1.99; and New Jersey, which squeaked in under that mark at $1.997.

Four states averaged more than $2.50 for regular: Hawaii, $2.72; California, $2.67; Washington, $2.60; and Alaska, $2.57.

Compared with last year, though, motorists are paying less to fill their tanks. The national average for regular was 38 cents higher a year ago at $2.58, premium gas was 36 cents higher at $3.05, and diesel fuel was 26 cents higher at $2.61. Three years ago, the national average for regular in late August was more than $3.50 a gallon.

Price tracker said that, as of Monday, 33.7 percent of U.S. gas stations were selling regular for less than $2. At this time in 2015, regular was going for more than $2 at 99.9 percent of stations.

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