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U.S. gasoline prices rise on refinery problems

By Renzo Pipoli
U.S. gasoline prices rise on refinery problems
Gasoline prices rose week-over-week in the United States, mainly due to refinery maintenance -- when plants stop or limit productions to sell only from inventories. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Gasoline prices rose in the week ended Tuesday, increasing on average six cents per gallon to $2.33 -- the biggest jump yet this year -- with the gains resulting from refinery problems despite weak demand, the AAA auto drivers association said.

"Motorists are seeing more expensive gas prices as a result of ongoing refinery problems coupled with crude oil prices hitting their highest level so far this year as global crude inventories tighten," said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson

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"Inventories are likely to continue to tighten and keep gas prices higher through the end of the month," she added.

Gasoline prices are rising even as the latest Energy Information Administration report showed demand dropping for a second week due to severe winter weather in several states. Refinery problems and increasing exports have kept inventories at minimal builds.

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Gas prices are 4 to 16 cents more expensive on the week across the Great Lakes and Central states, mostly due to ongoing refinery maintenance and inventories tightening.

Three South and Southeast states have seen gas prices increase by at least a dime on the week.

In several states of the Northeast, gas prices were higher, or as much as a dime more expensive on the week. Delaware and Maryland saw the largest jumps.

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In the Rockies, Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho are among the fewer than 10 states where gas price averages decreased in the last week.

Prices in the West Coast region, which are the highest in the nation, in part due to stricter environment regulations, have mostly declined on the week, with Arizona, priced at 2 cents per gallon lower, seeing the largest drop.

Fuel sold in service stations across most of the United States is a combination of either RBOB, Reformulate Gasoline Blendstock for Oxygenate Blending, or CBOB, Conventional Blendstock for Oxygenate Blending. Some states use RBOB and others CBOB. California mandates a special formula named CARBOB.

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These blendstock products are all naphtha obtained from crude oil. The naphtha is in most cases later mixed with about 10 percent ethanol, which is an oxygenate added so that the ending emission is cleaner.

RBOB gasoline futures for March delivery were quoted Tuesday afternoon at $1.57 per gallon. This compares with $1.34 per gallon on Feb.5 also for March delivery, according to CME Group data.

Ethanol, which is alcohol that in the United States is mostly derived from corn, was quoted Tuesday at $1.31 for March delivery, down from $1.33 per gallon on February 5.

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