Despite the longest streak of increases in the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline since summer — including a 4-cent spike in just the past week — Americans are still paying less at the pump than they were last year at this time, according to AAA.
As of Jan. 28, the average price for a gallon of regular gas was $3.35, 6 cents more than a month earlier amid a series of price increases during the past 11 consecutive days; that's the longest since a 21-day streak between late July and mid-August in 2012. Still, the first 28 days of 2013 have seen an overall 6-cent increase compared with 14 cents during the first 28 days of last year, AAA stated. The most dramatic increases have occurred in the Central U.S., with nine states seeing price hikes between a dime and 17 cents a gallon in just the past week, including Illinois, Idaho, North Dakota, Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska.
While last year's price increases resulted partly from tensions with Iran, this year's have been impacted by an improving economy and regional refinery issues in Illinois, New Mexico, Texas, California and Washington, AAA stated. Such challenges may not be going away anytime soon, as New York-based oil company Hess announced this week that it would shut down its Port Reading, N.J., refinery by the end of next month, likely forcing prices up in the Northeast.