Gasoline prices spiked 8 cents a gallon in Chicago in the past week.
The average price of unleaded regular gasoline jumped to $3.10 a gallon Monday from $3.02 a week earlier, according to AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express.
Nationally, prices rose by an even larger margin, but the average still remained below that in Chicago. The average per gallon price was $2.95 nationally, up 9 cents from $2.86 a week earlier.
Blame the increases on a strike last month in France that shut down one of the biggest refineries there, increased energy demand because of cold weather in Europe, and refinery outages in the United States and Venezuela, said Chicago-based PFGBest oil industry analyst Phil Flynn. Strong economic reports signalling China might have increased demand for oil, concerns about the Euro and a weak dollar also were factors, he said.
“Normally gasoline prices probably would have gone up even without these problems because the price of crude oil has gone up pretty dramatically,” he said. “It hit a two and a half year high. Over the last few weeks because of these other side issues, gasoline prices went up further than crude.”
The good news is prices should be heading back down, Flynn said.
In Chicago, “my bet is we’ll probably get closer to $3 (a gallon) before Christmas, and if we’re very lucky, maybe we’ll get below $3,” he said. “I think nationally we’re going to fall five to six cents. We should pull back at least that much by the end of the year. Over the next couple of weeks we should see prices start to come down.”