A consortium of oil-producing countries has taken more than a million barrels a day off the market — and that’s the least of the problems plaguing American gasoline prices.
Across the U.S., regular gas averaged $2.77 a gallon, up 7 cents on the week and 29 cents on the month, according to GasBuddy. Last year, gas prices topped out at $2.98 at the outset of Memorial Day weekend.
The cheapest gas prices in Elmira are listed at $2.55 a gallon, and the most expensive recorded on GasBuddy is $2.75.
Similar prices can be found across the region with some residents in Horseheads paying $2.52 a gallon.
Up in Watkins Glen gas is about 20 cents more expensive, but that is about the state average.
The average price of gas in Pennsylvania is $2.89 a gallon, and one station in Mansfield is charging $2.99 a gallon.
Skyrocketing prices are particularly pronounced on the West Coast. According to GasBuddy, California already has the highest gas prices in the country at an average of $3.77 per gallon for regular gas, an increase of 49 cents over last month’s average. GasBuddy head of petroleum analysis Patrick DeHaan warned in a Sunday tweet that prices weren’t done going up just yet, predicting that the average price in California will top $4 this week.
“It’s nothing short of spectacular on the West Coast. A trifecta of issues is causing gas prices to surge,” DeHaan said.
Oil prices are climbing, but that only accounts for about one-quarter of the recently higher gas prices American drivers have been facing, he said. A bigger issue is that this is around the time of year when many oil refineries plan maintenance as they make their annual switch to summer-blend fuels.
This year, unexpected issues took a higher number of refineries offline, squeezing supplies. “This laundry list of refinery issues, both planned and unplanned, is having a dramatic impact on prices,” DeHaan said. “It’s almost inevitable every year that there will be a refinery issue.”
Another factor driving up gas prices is ethanol, a corn-based fuel refiners are required to mix into summertime gasoline blends. Flooding in key Midwestern ethanol production hubs like Chicago has disrupted the delivery of ethanol and made supplies scarce.
The upshot is that drivers in different parts of the country will continue to see prices climbing in the coming weeks, albeit at different rates.