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U.S. Midwest paying top dollar for gas

Feb. 1, 2013 at 8:07 AM

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Higher crude oil prices and a fire that closed a refinery in Ohio are leading to gasoline price spikes in the U.S. Midwest, market analysts say.

Fuel price monitoring website gasbuddy.com reports the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in Michigan was $3.68. Motor group AAA reports a state average Friday of $3.62, compared with a national average of $3.46. For Ohio commuters, AAA reports the average at $3.54.

Patrick DeHaan, lead analyst at gasbuddy, told Michigan Public Radio the gas spike was seasonally "unprecedented."

DeHaan said regional markets were reacting to higher crude oil prices. Bloomberg News last week said West Texas Intermediate crude oil was on a run not seen since 2009. Brent crude oil prices for March delivery were up 0.27 percent, meanwhile, at $115.86.

DeHaan added that a fire at a Toledo, Ohio, refinery was adding to regional strains.

Cindy Antrican, an AAA representative for Ohio, told the Springfield (Ohio) News-Sun the region is "riding the roller coaster" in terms of gasoline prices.

PBF Energy closed its Toledo refinery Wednesday following an explosion there. Antrican said further price increases were expected as area refineries close for maintenance as they prepare to shift to summer gasoline blends.

DeHaan described the gasoline price increase as "mind-blowing." Some Michigan markets in January saw gasoline prices at around $3 per gallon.

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