Gas Prices Spike, You Can Thank the weather
You could probably stand outside a gas station in the days ahead and watch the pump price change by the hour, all thanks to the recent cold snap that plunged parts of Oklahoma and Texas below zero
Last week's polar vortex idled 20% of the nation’s oil refining capacity, as Gulf Coast refineries shut down due to power outages and shortages of natural gas.
Triple A says the recent big chill has the potential to push the national average pump price up another 10 to 20 cents from its current level of $2.54/ gallon. If the national average jumps into the $2.65-$2.75 per gallon range, it would be at its highest level since 2019.
GasBuddy.com experts say the national average could edge close to $3 per gallon by Memorial Day weekend as refineries eventually begin to switch over to EPA-mandated cleaner summer fuels.
“Oil prices have continued to rally as global oil demand recovers from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. "Now with the extreme cold weather shutting refineries down, U.S.motorists just can’t seem to catch a break. We probably won’t see much, if any, relief anytime soon.”
According to AAA, over the past week the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline has increased by seven cents to $2.57. Michigan saw the largest increase, with its average pump price jumping more than 20 cents.
Pump prices in Maryland and Arizona both jumped by more than 14 cents. Other states with double-digit increases in the average pump price included Delaware (+13 cents), Ohio (+12 cents), Nebraska (+12 cents), Iowa (+12 cents), Illinois (+12 cents), Wisconsin (+11 cents) and Minnesota (+11 cents).
Gasbuddy's De Haan said the latest jump in the national average is a direct result of all major Gulf Coast refineries being impacted by the recent winter storm, which has caused gas supplies to tighten and pump prices to increase.
De Haan said until refineries resume normal operations, supply is expected to remain tight in impacted areas, especially with road conditions and power outages reducing fuel deliveries.
In Montana Monday, pump prices varied from $2.22/gallon in Great Falls, to $2.25/gallon in Missoula, to $2.34/gallon in Billings.
Among neighboring states, Wyoming had the lowest price at $2.13/gallon in Newcastle. North Dakota prices varied from $2.24 in Bismarck to $2.44 in Fargo.