With Labor Day on the horizon, gasoline prices have continued their march upward in Kansas and nationwide for the past two weeks, plagued by potential hurricane-induced supply disruptions and a drought-induced rise in ethanol prices, gas price analysts reported Sunday.
Average retail gasoline prices in Kansas have risen 0.9 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.65 per gallon Sunday. This compares with the national average that has increased 3 cents in the last week to $3.73, according to gasoline price website KansasGasPrices.com.
Including the change in gas prices in Kansas during the past week, prices yesterday were 11.4 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 18.9 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 23.3 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 11.8 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.
The state lows were reported at Junction City at $3.45. The highs were at Kingman with $3.99 and just off I-70 at Ellsworth with $3.89.
Great Bend came in more than a dime lower than the state average in most places with $3.53. However, there were some stations in Great Bend at $3.63.
Elsewhere in the area, prices were $3.60-3.70 at Larned, and $3.75 in town at Ellsworth.
“Well, for those that have noticed, the national average has perked up slightly in the last week as oil prices have advanced,” said GasBuddy.com senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan. “While that may be notable, soon-to-be Hurricane Isaac will be the story this week.”
He said it’s possible there will be refinery outages, oil production losses, and gasoline supply issues – essentially all the things price forecasters don’t want to happen. “While this storm doesn’t currently appear as powerful as other storms that have caused similar concern- we’re continuing to watch the situation develop. One thing is for sure- I’m concerned that this storm will temporarily drive prices higher in the short term.”
Gasoline prices peaked this year at $3.967 a gallon on April 6. The record high is $4.112 set on July 11, 2008.
Trilby Lundberg, who conducts the survey of some 2,500 gas stations nationwide, said the rise can also be partly attributed to an increase in the cost of corn-based ethanol caused by a severe Midwestern drought.
U.S. law requires a certain amount of ethanol to be sold, and much of it gets blended into gasoline, Lundberg said.
“Right now, its impact on gasoline is that it’s adding to the cost,” she said. “It pales in comparison to the impact of crude on gasoline, but it’s among the non-crude items that has pushed up the price lately.”