International tensions are once again having an effect at gas pumps.
Average retail gasoline prices in Illinois have risen 8.8 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.92 a gallon Sunday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 4,378 gas outlets in Illinois. This compares with the national average that has increased 3.4 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.59 a gallon.
While part of the increase can be attributed to seasonal refining issues, concerns over the crisis in Ukraine are beginning to have their own impact, with oil prices approaching $105 a barrel today.
Locally, Plains Marketing LP was paying $96.75 a barrel today, $5 more than a month ago.
Today at Robinson pumps, prices for regular were about $3.69 a gallon, up more than 50 cents since February. Diesel was averaging $4.09 today locally. A year ago, regular was pumping for $3.44 a gallon here, with diesel at $3.97.
Prices were even higher across the Wabash, with regular in the Terre Haute market averaging $3.78 today, with mid-grade at $3.90, both about a dime higher than a month ago.
The lowest gas price in Illinois today could be found at a single location in Lombard, at $3.45 a gallon. That's according to the illinoisgasprices.com website, which relies on motorist reports. Robinson's price today was actually the second-lowest in the state, according to the website; the next-lowest price reported after the suburban Chicago location was $3.71, at several Springfield-area locations.
Including the change in gas prices in Illinois during the past week, prices Sunday were 25 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 16.5 cents higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 9.2 cents per gallon in the last month and stands 7.2 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.
"The national average has zoomed higher in the last week, regaining some upward momentum and bringing us to the highest national average so far this year," said GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. "As we get very near the final shift to summer spec gasoline, we're seeing prices continue to creep higher in many communities across the country."
He said motorists can expect prices nationally between April and September to average out to $3.52 a gallon, which would be slightly under the same period last year.
GasBuddy's estimate is not too far from that of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which forecasts regular at $3.57 a gallon during the April-through-September summer driving season this year. The projected monthly national average regular retail gasoline price falls from $3.66 a gallon in May to $3.46 a gallonin September.
The agency expects regular gasoline prices to average $3.45 a gallon for 2014 and $3.37 a gallon in 2015, compared with $3.51 a gallon in 2013.
Most of the expected increase from the current price over the next several weeks is attributable to typical seasonal factors such as refinery maintenance and the switch to summer-grade gasoline, according to EIA. which is more costly to produce than winter-grade gasoline.
Retail prices are expected to gradually decline after May to an average of $3.46 a gallon in September.