The cost of going on spring break went up this week after the statewide average for gas climbed 19 cents a gallon, according to the AAA Texas Fuel Gauge.
The statewide average price is $1.82 a gallon, but Fort Worth, Arlington and Dallas motorists are paying a nickel more at $1.87, the most among the state’s major metropolitan areas, the agency reported Thursday.
Nationally, the price of gas went up 12 cents to settle at $1.96. The cheapest price in a Texas metro area was $1.75 in Beaumont.
Though it’s the third week in a row that prices have jumped statewide, Texas motorists were digging deeper in their pockets a year ago, paying 41 cents more per gallon. At the beginning of March, the statewide average was $1.60, AAA reports.
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In Fort Worth-Arlington, the price had a whopping 23-cent jump after dipping 2 cents last week.
I can’t foresee [Donald] Trump winning in November, but it is an easier prediction to say gas prices will go up every spring.
Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at Gas Buddy
While all of this may upset some drivers, they need to remember that this happens every year, analysts said.
“I can’t foresee [Donald] Trump winning in November, but it is an easier prediction to say gas prices will go up every spring,” said Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst at Gas Buddy in Chicago. “This is something we saw a mile away, maybe 500 miles away.”
What’s the cause? Every spring, refineries begin the transition to produce more expensive, environmentally sensitive fuel needed by gas stations for the summer. Nationally, they must be selling the cleaner blend by June 1.
There also is the increased demand for fuel as people hit the road for vacations.
“It is moving up,” said John Benda, founder of the Fuel City discount convenience store chain. “Gas has not been profitable for stations for a while. We were selling it for less than cost. But now it’s going up so fast we can’t raise the price fast enough.”
Benda was selling regular unleaded gas for $1.85 at his downtown Dallas station while QT and RaceTrac were at $1.89, he said. Benda said the fuel is costing him about $1.72.
“You buy so much and the price goes up that day but you can’t raise the price to match what you paid for it, so we were selling it for less than cost for about 10 days,” he said.
Contributing to the price bump is the cost of crude oil, which went up rose $1.74, or 4.5 percent, to close at $40.20 a barrel in New York on Thursday, the first time it has been above $40 since December. Not so long ago the price was near $27, DeHaan said.
Though there has been a small decline in production — to 9 million barrels a day from 9.4 million a year ago — not everyone is as scared of the amount of oil in storage, he said. While 523 million barrels were being held in supply, up from about 450 million a year ago, since the country uses about 20 million barrels a day that is only enough oil to keep things running for about a month, DeHaan said.
“It’s a glut, yes. But not the glut that people perceive we have,” DeHaan said. “When you’re consuming 20 million barrels a day, it’s a drop in the bucket.”