Gasoline prices have risen dramatically in the past two weeks throughout much of the Midwest. While the price increases may ease off by June, but don’t expect relief at the pump this Memorial Weekend, industry experts say.
The American Automobile Association’s online daily fuel gauge report and GasBuddy.com both showed the average price for a gallon of regular gas Monday in Kansas was $3.92. Just one week ago, the average price was $3.64, and it was $3.35 a month ago. This time last year it was $3.45.
Great Bend consumers logging onto GasBuddy reported regular gasoline selling for $3.87 a gallon or more on Monday.
Carbondale and Liberal had the cheapest gas in Kansas at $3.69, and Larned showed one location selling gas for $3.70 on Sunday morning. That report had not been updated Monday. More recent reports from two other stations in Larned showed gas selling for $3.85 and $3.95.
Ellsworth had the highest gas in the state, with prices up to $4.29 a gallon. There were reports of gas selling for $4.09 or higher in several cities, including Caney, Parsons, Russell, Ottawa, Lindsborg, Chanute, Independence, Coffeyville, Wichita and McPherson.
Jim Haani with the AAA office in Topeka blames the higher prices on tight regional supplies at a time when refineries are undergoing maintenance.
“A lot of people want to say prices go up every year on Memorial Day, but that is not the case,” Haani said. Last year, starting on April 7, gas prices began dropping and the trend continued for 87 days.
Refineries make different blends of gasoline for summer and winter. In the spring, they typically switch from winter to summer production and do maintenance at the same time. “A lot of the refineries have run into problems,” Haani said. Maintenance at the BP Whiting Refinery in Indiana and the ExxonMobil Joliet Refinery in Illinois, which supply much of the gas for this region, have played a role in the decreasing supply of gasoline, moving prices higher, he said.
Haani also noted outages at HollyFrontier Refinery at El Dorado, as well as at the Citgo LeMont Refinery in Illinois.
As maintenance is completed and the supply becomes greater, the price should drop. The Midwest may also see a tapering off in price increases as retailers try to get some inventory from the Gulf states, where the supply is not a tight.
“We expect as early as the first week of June supplies will get back to normal,” Haani said.