The price of gasoline across the United States continues to rise, and the increases show no signs of topping off as the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded has jumped 15-cents since May 1st. The latest weekly gas price survey from the Energy Information Administration shows the cost of fuel lurched forward another 7 cents this past week.
The U.S. average was led by huge increases in the Rocky Mountain states and in the Midwest, the latter of which is typically a harbinger of things to come in the broader U.S. market. In most Midwestern states, the cost of a gallon of gas skyrocketed by an average of 18-cents per gallon, coming on the heels of a 7-cent per gallon increase last week, which followed a nickel increase per gallon the previous week. In all, the heartland of the U.S. has seen gas prices up a quarter per gallon since the beginning of the month.
Meanwhile, for truckers and other drivers with diesel engines, the cost of rolling across the highways and turnpikes has also increased, although not as dramatically. Diesel fuel prices ticked up about 2-cents per gallon in most regions, with the Gulf Coast states and West Coast witnesses increases between 4-cents and 5-cents per gallon.
Gasoline prices had been declining steadily through March and April, impelling the EIA to estimate summer gas prices would settle around $3.63 per gallon through the summer; however, the current price of fuel, just ahead of the Memorial Day driving frenzy, is already $3.67, with prices at or near $4.00 per gallon in some places across the West Coast and California. But the West Coast, which traditionally has higher fuel costs than the rest of the nation, was not suffering as badly as some drivers in Minnesota and Illinois.
In Minneapolis, TV station KSTP 5 reported the price for a gallon of regular unleaded was selling for as much as $4.34 per gallon Saturday, ranking it near the highest in the U.S., even ahead of Hawaii. Many drivers were interviewed on the street, relaying their particular pain at the gas pump.
The rise in fuel prices has been blamed on the closure of two refineries in Chicago, as heavy rains caused problems with the refineries and pipelines that carry other fuels. With a torrent of bad weather striking across the United States Monday, including tornadic activity across Oklahoma and other Midwestern states, it was unclear how oil futures may be impacted, which could lead to further spikes in gas prices.