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Pump prices climbing
Unrest in Middle East possible cause
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Average retail gasoline prices in Kansas have risen almost 22 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.52 per gallon earlier this week, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 1,329 gas outlets in Kansas. This compares with the national average that has increased 15 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.62.
As of mid week, prices in Great Bend ranged from $3.49 to $3.52. The lowest prices in the state were at Sedgwick with $3.24, Manhattan with $3.37 and Salina at $3.39.
The highest prices were recorded at $3.99 on I-70 at Hays, and $3.79 at Sabetha and McPherson.
Including the change in gas prices in Kansas during the past week, prices yesterday were 22 cents per gallon higher than this time last year. The national average has increased over 20 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.
Nowhere in the country has the price climb been any steeper than the Great Lakes region. “Indiana’s prices have risen by 29 cents over the past week, nearly double the rate of increase the rest of the country is seeing,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.  “And the price escalation has been nearly as exasperating for consumers in Michigan (+.27), Illinois (+.26) and Wisconsin (+.23).”
Additionally, the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s weekly report today said  crude oil inventories decreased by 6.9 million barrels to a total of 367 million barrels, a level that is 10.4 million barrels below last year’s.
“I suspect that the unrest in Egypt is playing a significant role in pushing crude values higher, and thus retail gasoline prices higher as well,” DeHaan said. “The market is seemingly quite sensitive to the situation in Egypt as the Energy Information Administration has reported two consecutive weeks of large declines in crude oil inventories, drawing concern that a loss in Middle Eastern crude would mean continued declines in inventories stateside.” 
Across the country, prices have jumped since last week as crude oil supplies dropped due the Egyptian crisis sparked worries about disruptions in supplies.
“If there’s a silver lining in the report it’s that gasoline inventory increased and refinery output is healthy,” said Gregg Laskoski, another senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.  “But with the backdrop of current demand and NYMEX crude at $106 we can only expect retail prices to continue their upward momentum.”
In California, the average price hovered around $4.02. Experts say the price could climb even higher in the coming weeks as Americans hit the road on summer vacations.
Companies are increasing production in the U.S. through new drilling techniques, including fracking, that have enabled the country to tap previously unreachable energy sources and meet 89 percent of its own energy needs in March. However, the nation still imports a lot of crude oil from the Middle East.
Prices at the pump have started climbing as chaos roils Egypt, where the military recently ousted democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi after only one year in office.
Although the country does not produce oil, it controls the Suez Canal and therefore has power over a major shipping lane that moves millions of barrels of the world’s oil supply daily. There are also concerns that the chaos may spread more broadly across North Africa and the Middle East, which is home to about a third of the world’s oil production.