Gas prices hit their highest levels this year as heat hampers refineries

Rising oil costs and heat-induced refinery production cuts have driven gas prices to their highest level in nine months.

The average price of a gallon of regular gas in the United States reached $3.80 on Wednesday, up 26 cents from a month ago, according to data from AAA. That’s the highest level since November, though still below the peak average of $5 in June 2022.

Hot weather has hurt the refinery’s output, AAA spokesman Andrew Gross said.

“Last June, prices were a war-induced mania,” Gross said. “Now prices are responding to scorching summer temperatures.”

Refineries are not designed to operate in temperatures above 95 degrees, so companies scale back production during heat waves as a safety and efficiency measure. Much of the nation’s refinery capacity is in areas of Texas and Louisiana where the average daily maximum temperature in July has been at least 95 degrees.

The weather will ultimately determine whether drivers see financial relief at the pump, Gross said. But the price of crude oil also has an impact on gasoline prices, Gross and others said.

Oil prices are around $80 per barrel. barrel. Crude cuts have led to global declines in oil inventories, said Patrick DeHaan, head of oil analysis at GasBuddy.

“Warm has been a sudden shock the last two weeks, but the brew behind the scenes has been the price of oil, which has been rising for five straight weeks,” DeHaan said. “The Russians and Saudis have colluded to limit output to the market at a time when it appears the economy will not be dragged into the depths of a recession.”

Analysts expect gas prices to fall in October, but hurricane season could lead to more increases in the short term. Especially in South Florida, where water temperatures off the Gulf Coast topped 100 degrees last week, the potential for hurricane damage is high.

“If a hurricane hits the warm Gulf Coast waters, it can increase prices nationally by 10 to 30 cents, even if it’s just for a month,” Gross said.

While prices have skyrocketed across the country, motorists on the West Coast are paying the most. California, Washington state, Oregon and Hawaii are the four most expensive states to buy gas as of Wednesday, with average prices in those states ranging from $4.63 to $5 per gallon. gallon.

Gas in southern states remains the cheapest, with Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee all seeing average prices below $3.50 per gallon. gallon.

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