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Midwest markets brace for gas spike

Feb. 15, 2013 at 8:32 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- A senior petroleum analyst warned Friday that drivers in the U.S. Midwest can expect gasoline prices to climb by as much as 5 percent this weekend.

Motor group AAA reports that, on average, drivers in the United States paid $3.64 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline Friday. That's up more than 30 cents compared to one month ago.

Refinery outages in the Midwest, coupled with higher prices for crude oil traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange, are in part to blame for some of the price increase. The Wall Street Journal reports some refineries along the U.S. East Coast are recovering from Hurricane Sandy while other regional refiners are preparing for more expensive summer blends of gasoline.

Patrick DeHaan, senior analyst for price-watcher gasbuddy.com, told Michigan broadcaster WOOD TV 8 that markets there can expect prices to jump from about $3.70 to $4 by Monday.

AAA reports the average price for Michigan at $3.80 per gallon, the fourth highest in the country after Hawaii, California and New York, respectively. That's nearly 60 cents higher than January prices in Michigan.

The U.S. Energy Department said it expects gasoline prices for 2013 to average $3.55 per gallon, down 8 cents compared to last year's estimates.

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