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Gas prices jump in Chicago area

Updated: March 14, 2013 6:39AM

Gas prices have jumped in the Chicago area, and there is very little relief in sight.

The average price of regular unleaded gas in the Chicago metro area is $3.93, up 10 cents from a week ago and 51 cents from a month ago, according to AAA.

The spike in gas prices comes after oil prices rose from $85 a barrel in December to $97 in January, said energy analyst Phil Flynn. An improving economy added to the increase, he said.

Problems with refineries in the Midwest region have exacerbated the problem, Flynn said.

The BP refinery in Whiting, Ind., is undergoing major maintenance, causing production to decrease, Flynn said. A fire at a PBF Energy refinery in Toledo, Ohio, caused a temporary shutdown, which helped to slow production in the Midwest.

“Chicago is usually the poster child in the Midwest for higher gas prices due to higher taxes and refinery issues,” Flynn said.

The approached switch to summer-blend gasoline is also a contributing factor to rising prices at the pump, according to the AAA, which expects that rising prices “will slow as temporary production concerns are addressed.”

A temporary break in prices is possible but would increase by the end of March, in time for the summer driving season, Flynn said.

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