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U.S. gas prices continue slow rise into summer

Gas prices may keep going up steadily ahead of a deadline for the nation's refineries.

By Daniel J. Graeber
U.S. gas prices continue slow rise into summer
Geopolitical tensions and maintenance at U.S. refineries pushes gas prices up along with crude oil, market reports find . File photo by Pattie Steib/Shutterstock

April 18 (UPI) -- Most areas in the United States are seeing gains in the price for gasoline as crude oil prices move higher on market and geopolitical issues, analysis finds.

Motor club AAA reports a national average retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline at $2.41, a gain of a fraction of a percent from one week ago but 5.2 percent, or 11 cents per gallon, higher than one month ago.

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Gasoline prices are moving higher along with crude oil prices, which are up about 11 percent from one month ago in response to multilateral compliance with an effort led by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to tighten the market and to geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and on the Korean Peninsula.

The average price for gas is at its highest point for the year so far. The West Coast region maintains its hold as the most expensive in the country as California moves past a psychological threshold to post a state average price at $3.01 per gallon.

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In a weekly retail market report, Motor club AAA found the West Coast is set for increases in gasoline prices because of maintenance at two regional refineries, activity that could tighten gasoline supplies through May at the latest.

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The Great Lakes region is the most volatile market in the region and the only one in the country to post a drop in gasoline prices, with Michigan and Indiana both listing prices that are 7 cents lower than last week. According to AAA, the drop is in part a response to an early turnaround for regional refineries that had to shift to a summer blend of gasoline, which is more expensive to make because of stricter environmental safeguards. Six of the states in the region saw prices at the pump go up by as much as 18 cents per gallon during the shift.

The federal government estimates a national average price through the summer driving season, which ends in September, at $2.45 per gallon.

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Patrick DeHaan, a senior analyst with GasBuddy, said in a report emailed to UPI that gas prices will likely inch higher as April ends.

"The national average may reach its peak for the year in the next few weeks barring major escalation in Syria as refiners have generally concluded seasonal maintenance work and summer gasoline's May 1st deadline for refiners is just around the corner," he said.

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