Here’s why gas prices are ticking up again

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SALT LAKE CITY — U.S. gas prices are inching back up as seasonal fuel blend changes and international conflict contribute to more pain at the pump well ahead of the upcoming summer travel season.

The average price of a gallon of regular across the country was $3.49 on Tuesday, up 10 cents over the last week and more than 20 cents per gallon from a month ago, according to data tracked by AAA. On Monday, the U.S. average per gallon price saw the first year-over-year rise since last October.

Utah drivers are paying a bit less than most of the country with a gallon of regular going for an average of $3.44 as of Tuesday. Prices in the Beehive State have risen 13 cents per gallon in the last seven days and almost 50 cents per gallon since the same time last month. But Utah gas prices are down about 35 cents from this time last year.

Gas prices typically trend upward in March and April as fuel refineries switch winter formulas to more expensive summer blends. Warmer temperatures also drive up demand, and prices, as spring weather conditions begin.

Another factor contributing to upticks in global wholesale petroleum prices, which trickle down to price increases at the consumer level, can be traced back to the Russia-Ukraine war.

Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service, told CNN that recent drone attacks on oil refineries deep inside Russia are boosting gasoline and oil prices.

“It appears pretty clear that Ukrainians have discovered the best way to attack Vladimir Putin is to attack him in his wallet. That means knocking out refineries,” Kloza said. “It’s a wildcard we’ve never had to deal with before.”

While drivers may continue to see additional price increases in the near term, Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, says U.S. refineries will be upping their production volumes in the coming weeks which should bring some price relief.

“Most Americans continued to see average gasoline prices march higher last week,” De Hann wrote in a Monday blog post. “The reason is the season: gasoline demand is rising as more Americans are getting out, combined with the summer gasoline switchover, which is well underway, and continued refinery maintenance.

“The madness should slow down in the next few weeks as we’ve seen positive data that refinery output is starting to increase, a sign that the peak of maintenance season could be behind us. In some positive news for Midwest motorists, the BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana, that can process 440,000 barrels of oil per day is finally back to normal operations for the first time since an electrical failure happened in early February. For now, gas prices will likely continue to trend higher, but the fever may break soon.”

Below are the average prices for a gallon of regular in select Utah cities on Tuesday, according to AAA:

  • Logan: $3.38
  • Ogden: $3.42
  • Provo-Orem: $3.44
  • Salt Lake City: $3.42
  • St. George: $3.50

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Art Raymond

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