| Business

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Prices at pump jump early

Email Newsletters

Sign up for one of our email newsletters.

On the Grid

From the shale fields to the cooling towers, Trib Total Media covers the energy industry in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. For the latest news and views on gas, coal, electricity and more, check out On the Grid today.

Staff and Wire Reports
Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Gasoline costs are getting an early start on their annual spring march higher.

The average retail price nationwide rose 13 cents during the past two weeks to $3.42 per gallon, and within a few days it will likely set a record for this time of year.

In the Pittsburgh region, on Thursday reported an average gasoline price of $3.62 gallon, up 3 cents from $3.59 on Wednesday and up 11 cents from a week ago. On Tuesday, AAA East Central reported an average price in Western Pennsylvania of $3.557 a gallon, up 5 cents from a week ago.

The culprits: Rising crude oil prices, slowing output at refineries that are undergoing maintenance, and low supplies of gasoline.

These are the kinds of things that push gasoline prices higher every spring after what is normally a lull in gasoline prices in the late fall and early winter. But a heavy schedule of January maintenance at West Coast refineries has led to sharply higher prices there. Low inventories have pushed prices higher in the East.

Rising crude has pushed prices higher throughout the country.

“I'm not surprised at what I'm seeing, but I am surprised it's coming early,” said Tom Kloza, Chief Oil Analyst at the Oil Price Information Service.

Hopes of stronger economic growth in the United States and abroad helped push the stock market to a five-year high in January and sent crude prices up. When economies expand, more gasoline, diesel and jet fuel are consumed by shippers and travelers.

Crude oil has risen 14 percent since mid-December, to $97.49 on Thursday. Brent crude, the benchmark used to price oil that most U.S. refineries use to make gasoline, is up 9 percent since then to $115.55

But gasoline wholesale prices are rising even faster. That's the price distributors and service stations pay to buy the gasoline that they then sell to drivers.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Business Headlines

  1. Stocks finish weak before Thanksgiving holiday; energy firms give back some gains
  2. Union leaders warn Post-Gazette newsroom of possible layoffs
  3. Covestro leader MacCleary finds stability amid change
  4. Black Friday loosens its hold on the holiday season
  5. Mall stores required to open for Thanksgiving
  6. Feds upgrade GDP’s growth
  7. Coke had hand in shaping nonprofit health group, emails show
  8. German financial giant Allianz SE slashes coal investments
  9. New rules proposed for high-speed traders
  10. House passes reauthorization of U.S. Export-Import Bank
  11. Collectors willing to overpay for silver, value ‘all in the eye of the beholder’