CLEVELAND - It’s just a week before Memorial Day, the unofficial start to summer, and gas prices are soaring.
At this rate, $4 a gallon gasoline is likely to hit soon.
Gas prices in Cleveland rose 13.7 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.83. Prices were up nearly 22 cents at the end of April, according to GasBuddy.com.
Gas prices increased about 8.9 cents per gallon nationwide in the last week to $3.67. However, in southern California prices are at $4.05. That price is 28.2 cents less than one year ago.
Prices around northeast Ohio were spotted at local stations as high as $3.89 a gallon, well above the national average, but still less than California.
GasBuddy.com reported that prices are 20 cents higher than the same day a year ago and are 17.3 cents per gallon higher than a month ago.
So what’s causing the increase? Is it refinery production and maintenance, tightening supply, and the now completed switch over to EPA mandated cleaner summer gasoline? Many motorists remain skeptical at that reasoning, GasBuddy said.
"The last seven days have delivered some shocks at the pump for motorists in the nation's Midwest," said GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan.
"I don't believe I've ever seen gasoline prices in the Midwest surpass California - areas of Nebraska, Minnesota, Oklahoma, North and South Dakota, and Kansas- have done that. Gas price records in these areas aren't being quietly replaced, they're being blown out of the water. I don't believe I've ever seen such crazy trends in gasoline prices occur all at one - prices spiking in one area, falling in another, and holding steady in others. What we're seeing today is certainly rare," DeHaan said.
AAA told NewsChannel5’s Scripps station KSHB that it's the type of gas.
“I suspect it has to do with the fact that we are still in the process of converting from winter grade gasoline to summer grade gasoline,” said Mike Right, VP of Public Affairs for AAA Missouri.
Meanwhile, a different expert said it's because of a delay in shipments from a pipeline in the Gulf and scheduled maintenance on a refinery used in the Midwest is holding up production -- along with an increase in demand.
"We are still in a fury stage,” said Jeff Deatherage, President of The Professional Energy Group. “Trading companies are covering their demand right now."
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Gas Prices Headlines
Ohioans whose wallets are lighter after a weekend of holiday shopping will at least pay a little less for gas to start the week.
Gas is up 7 cents from last week, and it's 17 cents higher than two weeks ago, when prices started to rise following a brief flirtation with $3.00-a-gallon levels.