Gas Prices Heading Upward Again Says Expert

Chicago drivers were breathing a sigh of relief over the weekend.

After setting record high gas prices earlier in the week, it looked like perhaps the worst was over when oil prices retreated from $115 per barrel to just under $100 by the end of last week and gas prices started following suit.

Unfortunately for area drivers, unexpected market pressures may be sending prices back to record high levels according to petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan of GasBuddy.com.

“Don’t hold your breath, it’s not going to last long,” said DeHaan when asked about the current respite in gas prices. “Unfortunately, it’s (the price decline) very short lived. The wholesale price of gasoline was up 30 cents for the entire day today. So far, the decreases we saw last week were offset in just one day. Things change that quickly.”

Part of the reason for the jump in the wholesale cost of gasoline can be attributed to the threat of Mississippi flood waters possibly forcing many oil refineries on the river between Memphis and the Gulf of Mexico to halt production until the floods finish their historic crest.

In addition, the price of a barrel of oil rose over $5 Monday, pushing the price per barrel to $102.55 by the end of trading.

Midweek last week, the average price for regular unleaded gasoline in the Chicago area set new record highs with prices 13 to 17 cents higher than the previous record set three years ago.

AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report had gas prices topping out at $4.47 per gallon on Thursday, with ChicagoGasPrices.com pegging the record at $4.52 on Thursday. The previous highest prices for both websites were set back in July, 2008 when local gas stations had average gasoline prices peaking between $4.34 and $4.35 per gallon.

Currently, AAA has the average price for regular unleaded gas at $4.42 per gallon, while ChicagoGasPrices.com has $4.47 per gallon. AAA has the national average is $3.96 per gallon, and GasBuddy.com has it at $3.93.

But how far will gas prices continue to rise? DeHaan doesn’t have a crystal ball, but doesn’t think drivers will see any relief soon.

“Prices should head back to where they were early last week,” DeHaan said.

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