COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio motorists surely have noticed that the cheap gas prices from earlier this year are now but a distant memory.
Pump prices are on the rise, thanks to a confluence of factors that include refinery issues, pipeline delivery disruptions and higher crude oil prices, according to the auto club AAA.
As a result, average gas prices could end up hovering around that $2.77 average that Ohioans saw in June 2015. Stations in some Ohio cities are already getting there. That wouldn’t be so bad except motorists were spoiled by almost shockingly low pump prices in the late winter and early spring.
The price per gallon of regular in Ohio was about $2.68 in Monday’s survey from AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and WEX Inc. That was up 18 cents from a week ago, and 43 cents more than a month ago.
The Ohio price was 30 cents more than the $2.38 national average Monday. The average around the country has creeped up only a few pennies in the past week.
Here’s what is happening, according to AAA: Ohio’s gas prices are largely tied to the Chicago market, which is prone to wild price swings. The prices in this market increased drastically last week, which directly affected pump prices.
In addition, regional refinery issues have plagued the Chicago market, with several unplanned upsets occurring since the maintenance season began in March. That has reduced regional supply, which also contributed to higher prices.
“What tends to happen in our market is we see any refinery outage, and we tend to get knee-jerk reactions and we get a price spike,” said Kimberly Schwind, spokeswoman for AAA Ohio Auto Club.
Behind all that are higher crude prices. West Texas Intermediate crude oil soared above $50 per barrel last week for the first time since July 2015.
Also, gas prices typically reach their highest point in late spring and early summer. That’s because the summer blend of gasoline is more expensive to produce, so the price always goes up at the start of the summer driving season.
Schwind said gas prices likely won’t get high enough to dissuade people from taking summer road trips. AAA projects that summer demand for gasoline nationwide is going to be the highest since before the recession in 2007.