Weather Updates

Decrease in gas prices could last a while

Two flare stacks (right) burn BP Refinery Whiting Ind. Tuesday May 27 2008. Flare stacks help maintacontrol units withrefinery. For

Two flare stacks (right) burn at the BP Refinery in Whiting, Ind., Tuesday, May 27, 2008. Flare stacks help to maintain control of units within the refinery. For The Post-Tribune~Guy Rhodes

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Updated: April 13, 2013 6:31AM

Gasoline prices in the Chicago area dropped 8 cents a gallon in the past week, bringing some welcome relief to drivers, according to AAA Motor Club, and that relief could last for a while.

The average price of unleaded regular gas fell to $3.91 a gallon Monday, from $3.99 a week earlier, and down from $4.14 a gallon a year earlier.

In the city of Chicago, the average price fell 5 cents to $4.17 a gallon from $4.22 a week earlier, and down from $4.28 a year earlier.

Typically with the switchover to more expensive summer blend fuels, prices start to rise in the spring. But this may not be a typical year.

“My expectations are we may have seen the high for the summer,” Flynn said. “I think there’s a possibility if we don’t have any refining issues going forward or major problems, that run-up that we normally see in April and May may already have happened.”

The price decline over the past week is linked to the decline in the price of oil from highs hit earlier this year.

“The price of oil has come down pretty dramatically,” said Phil Flynn, oil industry analyst with the PRICE Futures Group. “We were over $97 a barrel. We got back down below $91, and that has made a huge impact on the prices.”

Refinery issues in the Midwest also contributed to higher gas prices this year.

“You had the BP refinery doing a major crude unit overhaul,” in Whiting, Ind., Flynn said. “They’re taking a crude unit and trying to help it refine heavier grades of Canadian crude, so they’ve had reduced runs.”

“Nationally there was the very cold weather in Europe that helped drive up the price of crude oil,” he added. “That put upward pressure on prices here.”

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