On average nationally, gasoline prices jumped 17 cents in one week, marking one of the largest jumps on record, the American Automobile Association reported this week.
The national average began 2013 at $3.29 and 17 days into the new year was virtually unchanged. Since Jan. 17 the price at the pump has jumped 23 cents per gallon and increased for 18 straight days to $3.52. This is the longest streak since prices rose for 21 consecutive days July 28-Aug. 18 of last year.
In Kansas, according to Gasbuddy.com, the average price settled at $3.43. The lowest price recorded as of Wednesday was $3.29 at Ottawa and Liberal. The highest were $3.69 at McPherson and $3.59 at Caney.
In Great Bend, the price ranged from $3.35 to $3.39. Other area prices included $3.38 in Larned, $3.39 in Lyons and $3.49 in Russell.
Monday’s national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.52. This price is 17 cents more expensive than last Monday, 22 cents more than one month ago and five cents more than the average price one year ago. It is the highest on record for this calendar day. The national average has exceeded the year-ago level and set a new daily record for five days in a row.
According to the AAA, the dramatic one-week spike was the largest in nearly two years and the 20th largest weekly increase of the 21st century. The last time the national average increased more rapidly was Feb. 25-March 4, 2011, when violence in Northern Africa and the Middle East, most notably in Libya, sent oil and gasoline prices dramatically higher on fears of supply disruption.
The most dramatic one-week increase on record was Aug. 28-Sept. 4, 2005, when prices rose 46 cents in the days following Hurricane Katrina. The recent price surge has been largely the result of higher crude oil prices and the “rubber-banding” of midcontinent retail gasoline prices, which fell dramatically to end the year and are swinging back up again.
While prices in every state have increased over the last week, the increase was most dramatic in the Midwest, California and Colorado, led by jumps of more than 30 cents per gallon in both Indiana and Michigan. Eleven states have posted a monthly increase of at least 30 cents, and motorists in Indiana (47 cents), Minnesota (46 cents) and Michigan (44 cents) are all paying at least 40 cents more than one month ago. These regions have seen the most dramatic price increases because of higher regional crude prices and production concerns as refineries prepare to make the conversion to making summer-blend gasoline.
Despite these dramatic regional surges, the most expensive gasoline in the continental U.S. is still found in California and the Northeast: Calif. ($3.91), N.Y. ($3.87), Conn. ($3.85), Vt. ($3.72) and Maine ($3.71). The cheapest prices remain in the Mountain States: Wyo. ($2.94), Mont. ($3.04), Utah ($3.13), N.M. ($3.16) and Colo. ($3.17).
At Monday’s close of formal trading on the NYMEX, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) settled down $1.60 at $96.17 per barrel. While prices moved lower today, WTI, the traditional U.S. benchmark product, traded last week at its most expensive level since Sept. 14. Brent crude, the often cited global benchmark, is also trading lower today, but is still near highs last seen in April 2012.