So you pulled up to the pump and saw gas prices were up about a dime from the last time you bought it and you thought, What the heck?
Well, it’s true. The average price for a gallon of gas shot up 8 cents statewide from last week to hit $1.60, according to the AAA Texas Fuel Gauge report released Thursday. In Fort Worth and Arlington, gas prices went up 12 cents a gallon to hit an average of $1.66.
Among the state’s major metropolitan areas, motorists in Dallas are paying the most, $1.68, while Corpus Christi and San Antonio drivers are paying the least at $1.52, the report says.
While this may produce some sticker shock with the driving public, analysts are quick to point out that the price is still about 60 cents lower than last year and that the highest price for the year is projected to be close to $2 a gallon, which would be about 75 cents below 2015’s high.
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It’s not hard to find stations that sell gas for less than the $1.60 average. Across the state and in Fort Worth about 76 percent of the gas stations are still selling gas for $1.50 or less.
“People start hearing $2 a gallon and they are up in arms” because they are so used to seeing lower prices, said Will Speer, a senior petroleum analyst with Gas Buddy in Houston. “I’d say although we could approach the $2 range, it is still nearly 75 cents lower than the peak we saw last year.”
Still, it’s not hard to find stations that sell gas for less than the average, Speer said. Across the state and in Fort Worth, about 76 percent of gas stations are still selling gas for $1.50 or less.
Speer and other analysts credit the price rise to a number of factors including higher demand for gas during spring and summer, scheduled refinery maintenance and a drop in crude oil production.
Gasoline prices also rise nearly every year around this time in part because refiners must switch to making a more expensive summer blend of gasoline to meet clean air standards, he said.
“At 1.66 [in Fort Worth], we still have another 20 to 30 cent upside we’ll be seeing by May or June,” Speer said. The high for the Fort Worth area last year at that time was $2.72.
Crude oil prices have been creeping up, too. Oil prices have risen nearly $2.50 a barrel in the past week to close Thursday at $34.57 a barrel on the New York commodity market. Part of the reason is falling production, which has dropped for six straight weeks, Speer said.
While the national inventory of oil remains high, the number of rigs in the field has dropped about 74 percent since the first week of July 2014, when 1,562 rigs were searching for oil, he said. Now there are 400.