Summer Gas Switchover Cited as Prices Continue Upward

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Gas prices continued to climb in most parts of the country the past week due to the annual changeover to summer gasoline blends and unscheduled maintenance at several refineries, the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report said Thursday.

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AAA said the planned switch to summer blends, which all refineries must produce by May 1, has caused minimal disruption to the supply, but noted in its weekly commentary on gas prices: “Over the past few days, a number of refineries had to temporarily shut down or restart in order to perform unscheduled maintenance.”

That caused significant increases in pump prices in several states the past week. Prices for a gallon of regular unleaded jumped by 12 cents to $3.74 in Ohio and to $3.44 in Utah, and by 10 cents to $3.67 in Delaware and $3.52 in New Jersey.

The national average for regular unleaded gas rose 2 cents to $3.68, but diesel prices were unchanged at $3.96 for the second week in a row. Gas prices have increased 11 weeks in a row, climbing 41 cents since Feb. 6.

As prices continued to climb, the national average for regular unleaded was 15 cents higher than a month ago and 16 cents higher than a year ago, when pump prices were already declining. AAA has forecast that prices will peak this spring at $3.75 a gallon or less, below the 2013 peak of $3.79 and well below 2012’s peak of $3.94.

Montana had the nation’s cheapest gas at $3.37, and was the only state that averaged less than $3.40. Despite the 12-cent spike in prices in a week, Utah was next-lowest at $3.44, followed by Missouri and New Mexico at $3.46.

The most-expensive gas was in Hawaii, where the average rose a penny to $4.34. Californians saw prices climb 3 cents to $4.23, and in Connecticut they rose 8 cents to $3.90. That was also the statewide average in Illinois, unchanged from a week ago. Prices in Illinois had climbed 16 cents over the previous two weeks.

Prices were flat or slightly lower in a handful of other states. In Florida, where pump prices had surged by 21 cents over a four-week period, the statewide average dropped a penny to $3.75. The average was unchanged from a week ago at $3.47 in Oklahoma and $3.49 in Texas, and a penny lower in Arkansas at $3.48.

Prices moved higher in the northwestern U.S., rising 9 cents in Idaho to $3.48 and 7 cents in Oregon to $3.85, and in Washington to $3.86. photo by Evan Sears

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