Area gas prices trending upward again

Area gas prices are heading up again, with a survey of gas prices Wednesday afternoon finding prices tightly clustered in the range of $3.43 to $3.45 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline.

Gas sold for $3.43 per gallon at the Shell station at 2801 S. Hazel St.; and at the Big Red station at 2317 W. 28th Ave.; $3.44 per gallon at the Valero at 5001 Dollarway Road; $3.45 per gallon at the Eagle station at 2800 S. Olive St. and the Exxon at 5600 S. Olive St. across from the Walmart Supercenter.

In the White Hall area, gas was selling for $3.44 per gallon at the Valero located on U.S. 270 and $3.45 per gallon at the Valero at 8110 Sheridan Road near Interstate 530 and at the Shell at 8003 Sheridan Road.

According to Grand Rapids, Michigan-based, the average price for one gallon of unleaded gasoline in Arkansas is $3.43, while the average one month ago was $3.22, and one year ago the average price was $3.03 a gallon. senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan said that a refinery fire in Washington will have an impact on Arkansas gas prices.

“I expect stations to increase prices as much as 5 to 20 cents per gallon by the conclusion of the weekend with some stations starting to raise prices immediately,” DeHaan said in a press release.

Michael Right, vice president for public affairs at AAA Missouri, said that several factors have contributed to the rise in gas prices.

“The most immediate thing affecting gas prices right now is the price of wholesale gasoline, which is over $3.00 a gallon,” Right said. “That is extremely high for this time of the year. We also have crude oil prices which were sitting at $107 a barrel today, which is $20 per barrel higher than this time last year.”

“This is not necessarily a supply and demand situation but really more of a price ratcheting up situation,” Right said. “One of the major things driving up the price of crude right now is the Middle East situation. Iran and the Strait of Hormuz are driving up anxiety in the markets. In Europe we have the sanctions that were placed on Iran and the debt talks on Greece. All of these things are having an affect on the price of gasoline here, some positive and some negative.”

Right said that there is really nothing on the horizon to signal a shift towards lower prices.

“Unfortunately, we don’t see anything changing in the near future,” Right said. “We are likely to continue to see these types of prices. We are currently a little over 40 cents per gallon higher than this time last year. If you take that and apply it to gas prices in May we will see gas over $4.00 per gallon by then.”

“We are probably going to see record high gas prices this year,” Right said. “January saw the highest ever average price for gas for that month and we are looking at the same thing for February.”

From the Archives:
Natural gas coming to your tank? — Feb. 21, 2012

Area gas prices see slow decline — Dec. 2, 2011