Gas prices inched precariously close to $4 a gallon in Manhattan on Friday. The recent hike may be due in part to an influx of visitors in town for area graduations, but problems at several oil refineries were causing sharp increases across the Midwest, where gas prices rose 27 cents in the last week, according to the Associated Press.
At least one gas station in Manhattan showed $3.99 a gallon on Friday morning, though most stations hovered around $3.85, according to price tracker GasBuddy.com. Troubles at several oil refineries are driving gasoline prices sharply higher in the Midwest, and the regional shortages are expected to boost pump prices nationwide.
While the USA may be dripping in new found crude oil deposits and early May supplies were at their highest levels since the early 1930s, issues at a handful of refineries that turn crude into gasoline and diesel fuel underscore how kinks in the supply chain can cause quick surges in what consumers pay at the pump.
Gas prices in Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma and Wisconsin have spiked up to 27 cents a gallon the past week alone. Behind the rise: outages and extended maintenance has curbed output at refineries in Joliet, Ill., Whiting, Ind; Tulsa, Okla, and Eldorado, Kansas.
“It’s amazing what problems refinery issues can cause,’’ says DeHaan. “If another refinery went down, all hell would break loose.”
Nationally, prices average $3.60 a gallon after beginning 2013 at $3.29. Some industry observers thought this year’s prices had peaked at $3.78 in February after sliding to $3.50 April 29. But the Midwest’s refinery issues are now expected to keep propel prices for several weeks, perhaps to $3.85 a gallon nationwide.