BOSTON – You’ve been warned. Gas prices are about to get pumped up, eventually climbing to the year’s highest levels as refineries across the nation are preparing for maintenance season and the seasonal switch to cleaner burning gasoline, a tradition despised by many.
The hikes are due to summer’s more expensive blend of gasoline, required by the Environmental Production Agency (EPA) and the Clean Air Act, as well as refinery maintenance work lasting several months that causes gasoline production to drop, creating a pinch at the pump. Last year, the national average jumped 69 cents during this season, from a low of $1.69 to a high of $2.39; in 2015 we saw an even larger increase of 78 cent, from a low of $2.03 to a high of $2.81 per gallon.
Highlights of what’s to come at the pump across the nation:
- Average gasoline prices will rise 35-75 cents between recent lows and peak prices, just in time for spring break travel plans. Gas prices will likely plateau in May.
- America’s daily gasoline bill will swell from today’s $788 million to as much as $1.1 billion daily by Memorial Day. This is $312 million more spent every 24 hours.
- Some of the nation’s largest cities will be $3 a gallon gasoline very soon, including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Seattle, with other large cities possibly joining due to various stringent summer gasoline requirements.
- Watch out for more gas price volatility in the Great Lakes and West Coast versus other areas, based on prior year outages at refineries in these areas. As a result, there may be temporary gas price spikes.
“While I remain optimistic this year will not bring a ‘running of the bulls’, we’re likely to see some major increases at the gas pump as the seasonal transition and refinery maintenance get underway,” says Dan McTeague, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. “Overall, most areas will see peak prices under $3 per gallon, and while that’s far under prices a few years ago, watching prices surge every spring certainly brings heart burn with it. If we were to add the 5-year average increase we see during the spring, the national average would be thrust to $2.85 per gallon around Memorial Day, a 59 cent rise from the $2.26 per gallon observed February 9.”
States observing the largest seasonal jump between mid-February and Memorial Day at the pump last year:
1. Michigan, up 95 cents per gallon
2. Ohio, up 92 cents per gallon
3. Illinois, up 92 cents per gallon
4. Indiana, up 90 cents per gallon
5. Wisconsin, up 86 cents per gallon
6. Minnesota, up 82 cents per gallon
7. Kansas, up 76 cents per gallon
8. Oklahoma, up 75 cents per gallon
9. Missouri, up 74 cents per gallon
10. Kentucky, up 73 cents per gallon