ROCKFORD (WIFR) -– The national average price of gasoline has increased 9.5 cents a gallon this past week (to $3.68) and casual observers are quick to blame the approaching Memorial Weekend and the holiday’s expected uptick in demand as the culprit.
But this year, despite tepid consumer demand coast to coast, gas prices are rising rapidly in the nation’s heartland and that’s due to refinery problems that have severely reduced supply from four refineries to the mid-continent and Great Lakes region.
With refinery issues curtailing fuel production in Oklahoma, Kansas, Indiana and Illinois, it’s the middle of the county that is experiencing the nation’s worst price volatility, so much so that Minnesota now has the highest- priced gas in the continental U.S. (not California, Illinois or New York).
“There’s no doubt that many markets in the upper Midwest and mid-continent regions may reach new record high prices in the days ahead while some records going back to the run-up of 2008 have already been broken this past week,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst, GasBuddy.
“With Memorial Weekend approaching we anticipate lesser price activity along the coastal regions; perhaps some nominal increases in major travel corridors,” DeHaan added, “but the mid-Continent and Great Lakes region should be ready for additional increases of 10 to 20 cents more in the week ahead.”
“Until recently, fuel prices for most of the country had been well below last-year’s levels… now we’re expecting the mid-continent prices to moderate while we’re also seeing other regions increase incrementally, closing the gap between last year’s and current prices,” added GasBuddy’s Gregg Laskoski.
GasBuddy operates over 250 similar websites that track gasoline prices at over 140,000 gasoline stations in the United States and Canada. In addition, GasBuddy offers a free smartphone app which has been downloaded over 25 million times to help motorists find the lowest gasoline prices in their area.