Although gas prices have remained relatively stable since the start of the year, Triple-A is predicting they will rise as spring approaches.
The auto club believes prices at the pump will rise to about three dollars-75 cents per gallon, a bit less than last year’s peak of 3.79. Spokeswoman Jessica Brady says motorists likely are facing a jump soon.
“We have seen relatively stable gas prices since the start of January,” said Brady. “However, as we get near the end of February and refineries go into their maintenance mode, switching to the summer fuel blend, we can probably expect gas prices to go up.”
Gas prices saw identical rises in the springs of 2011 and 2012, at 86 and 56 cents per gallon respectively.
Brady says there are three factors – maintenance, increased demand, and the more expensive summer blends -- that drive price movements this time of the year – possibly as much as 50 cents this year.
A fourth reason could be the refineries which have increased capacity, to take advantage of the recent boom in North American crude oil production -- which in turn can limit peak prices and volatility.
Brady says unlike the past few years, there’s been little if any talk so far in 2014 about the possibility of four dollar a gallon fuel.
In something of a timing thing, the projected hikes in gas prices could coincide in part with the beginning of spring break for schools. But Triple-A’s Jessica Brady says that alone does not tend to affect them. Another non-factor are the winter storms that have moved across the country – including one hitting the Gulf Coast last month.
Triple-A reports self-serve regular in the Pensacola area averaged three dollars-33 cents a gallon on Thursday – unchanged from Wednesday but six cents cheaper than a week ago.