It’s spring – temperatures and gas prices are going up

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BUSINESS

by Michelle Cassell
Managing Editor 

Orange County residents are experiencing price increases when they fill their tanks. According to AAA, gas prices in Durham and Chapel Hill today average $3.364 per gallon for regular gas; premium gas averages $4.149 per gallon. A month ago, regular gas averaged $3.237 per gallon, and premium gas averaged $4.020 per gallon.

“Gas prices are a lot like seasonal temperatures.  They start to rise with the arrival of spring,” said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson. “And the national average for gas is now higher than a year ago, which we have not seen since late December.”

AAA noted that the national average for a gallon of regular gas rose to $3.535 as of March 27. While domestic gas demand has been lackluster, rising oil prices helped push pump prices higher.

According to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), gas demand decreased slightly from 9.04 to 8.81 million barrels per day last week. Meanwhile, total domestic gasoline stocks dropped by 3.3 million barrels to 230.8 million barrels. Lower demand would typically push pump prices lower or slow increases, but rising oil prices have pushed them higher instead.

That is likely to continue. Last week the OPEC Secretariat noted the announcements of several OPEC+ countries extending additional voluntary cuts of 2.2 million barrels per day.

According to NACS, the trade organization for fuel and convenience stores, “Gasoline prices are one of the most recognizable price points in American commerce.  Nearly 40 million Americans fill up their vehicles every day, and gasoline purchases account for approximately 5% of consumer household spending per year.”

“Consumers recognize when gas prices change—and some are willing to drive 10 minutes out of their way to save a few cents per gallon. Historically, two in three consumers shop for fuel based on price.”

This is why many of you may have noticed the price increase in recent weeks. AAA spokesperson Devin Gladden says, “Prices have increased ahead of the annual switch to a higher grade of gasoline known as the summer blend, which is more expensive to make. Summer blend fuel stems from regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that were enacted by Congress in 1990.” 

Summer blend vs winter blend

The EPA regulates gasoline from June 1 to September 15 based on its “Reid vapor pressure,” or RVP. Because gasoline evaporates more easily during warmer summer months, the EPA requires a lower vapor pressure, reducing air pollution. Winter-grade gasoline has a higher vapor pressure, so your engine can start more easily.

Local prices could be worse.  According to AAA, here are the nation’s top 10 most expensive markets: California ($4.95), Hawaii ($4.69), Washington ($4.37), Nevada ($4.26), Oregon ($4.14), Alaska ($3.92), Illinois ($3.91), Arizona ($3.73), Washington, D.C. ($3.63) and Michigan ($3.60).

So the next time you drive up to the pump, just be grateful that you’re not filling up in California or Hawaii.  Or not….


Michelle Cassell is a seasoned reporter who has covered everything from crime to hurricanes and local politics to human interest over the course of 35 years. As managing editor, she hopes to encourage writers of a wide range of backgrounds and interests in TLR’s coverage of Southern Orange County news. 

This reporter can be reached at Info@TheLocal Reporter.press

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1 Comment on "It’s spring – temperatures and gas prices are going up"

  1. Earl Richards | March 27, 2024 at 9:56 pm | Reply

    To beat the California Big Oil gasoline price gouging, buy an EV.

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