Gulf coast refinery maintenance began last week and gas prices already reflect increases. Southeast pump prices jumped as a whole last week and the nation's average for a gallon of regular gas climbed 7 cents from a week ago. Although many discounters in the 'Boro bumped prices up, the lowest price per gallon was $3.07.
Refinery maintenance, the fuel blend switch, and increased spring demand have already put upward pressure on prices at the pump. During maintenance season, refineries will reduce production output as they switch to the more expensive summer blend fuel. The summer blend fuel costs more because of required additives by the EPA to help cut emissions.
“Motorists shouldn’t be surprised if gas prices continue inching up this week,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Last year, prices peaked at $3.79 at the end of February and slowly dropped through April. This year, February prices are expected to remain well below year ago levels.”
A barrel of oil settled Friday at $100.30 on the NYMEX-- less than $1 more than the week prior.
The national average for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline is $3.35, 7 cents more than last week. Florida's average of $3.39 rose 7 cents from last week. Georgia’s average of $3.21 rose 3 cents, while Tennessee's average of $3.17 jumped 9 cents from last week.