Gas prices reached $3 a gallon Friday at area gas stations, the highest they have been all year as Tropical Storm Barry threatens Louisiana refineries.
The Dayton-area’s average gas prices ranged between $2.94 and $2.96 per gallon throughout the day Friday, a roughly 42-cent increase from the average gas price last month and a two-cent increase from this time last year.
Gas prices on this day were as low as $2.17 in 2016.
This is the highest July prices have been since 2014. Area prices only reached near $3 one other time during the past several years in May 2018 after President Donald Trump first announced the United States would withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Deal and several other geopolitical issues affected the pump.
“Clearly this tropical storm is likely to impact gas prices because they will be shutting down production to keep workers safe on these refineries, on these rigs, but we don’t expect it to be long,” said Kara Hitchen, spokeswoman for Miami Valley AAA.
At least one refinery and half of oil production in the Gulf has shut down, said Allison Mac, a Gasbuddy petroleum analyst.
“This has led to a decline in supply, yes, and also uncertainty — will the storm cause damages? how long? — so the market is reacting,” Mac said.
Gas prices were already elevated before this week as crude oil prices began climbing June 23 because of political tensions with Iran, she said. This week the crude oil prices have remained steady at about $60 per barrel, so the storm is playing a big role, she said.
Prices will probably continue to rise through the weekend and into next week, Mac said, but they are likely to stabilize or decline once the storm passes. Usually by this point in the summer the prices start to decline because the two major driving holidays are behind.
“What we recommend in the meantime is to do your shopping for the cheapest gas prices because they vary across the city,” Hitchens said.
Prices in the Dayton area ranged from $2.51 to more than $3 Friday.
The recent gas tax increase has also played it’s part, Hitchens said. A 10.5-cent gas tax increase went into effect July 1 as part of a two-year transportation budget that aims to raise an estimated $962 million a year. The revenue will be split between state and local governments for road and bridge repairs.
An explosion at a Philadelphia refinery in June could have also impacted prices earlier this month.
The recent hikes aren’t expected to be large enough to keep drivers from hitting the roads yet, Hitchens said. But the $2.90 prices could cause some motorists to make alternative plans if the average increases any more.
“As long as it stays below or right around the $3 mark, people have become accustomed to that fluctuation,” Hitchens said. “If it goes much over the $3 mark you may see some impact on people’s travel.”
If people travel less, that means they’ll also spend less other places, Hitchens said.
Motorists can save money by removing extra items from vehicles that make them heavier, checking tire pressure and making sure air filters are clean and working properly, she said.
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