Gas prices up here, across state

Feb. 12, 2013 @ 06:30 PM

Durham resident David Jenkins said he just expects gas prices to go up. And go up, they have.

The city’s gas price average was up 14 cents and the state’s about 16 cents Tuesday compared to what they were on the date last month, according to data from two organizations that track gas prices.

Prices are expected to stay within pennies of Tuesday’s prices over the weekend, and to increase incrementally in the coming weeks, according to one official from AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association.

 “You just kind of have to deal with it,” Jenkins said of gas price increases, adding that although he’s thought about getting a more fuel efficient car, his vehicle has its benefits, he said, including low car insurance payments.

The average price of gasoline in Durham Tuesday was $3.54, according to www.DurhamGasPrices.com, a local GasBuddy.com website where visitors post and view gas prices. The city’s average was eight cents below the average price on the date last year.

The state saw a similar trend. North Carolina’s average was $3.54 Tuesday The average price was seven cents below the average on the date last year.

Prices are expected to rise “incrementally,” David Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas, said in the release.

“However, barring any unforeseen supply issues or instability n the Middle East, we don’t expect increases to reach last year’s levels,” he said.

Last year, the average gas price in North Carolina reached a high for the year of $3.91 on April 6.

According to AAA Carolinas, gas prices in the state hit a low of $3.22 a gallon Dec. 20 of last year. They slowly rose until mid-January, then began to increase rapidly.

AAA Carolinas said in the news release that the recent increase has been due in part to higher crude oil prices, driven by positive domestic and global economic news.

Additionally, the organization said refineries are preparing to switch to summer-blend gasoline, which restricts output and tightens supply.

Angela Daley, a spokeswoman for AAA Carolinas, said prices typically increase in the early spring as refineries switch to the summer blends.

Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst with Gasbuddy.com, said the federally mandated summer blends have additives that allow gas to burn cleaner to reduce pollution in major metropolitan areas.

Laskoski also said production of those blends are a factor in why prices are increasing at this time of year. Nationally, he said, the organization is expecting prices to peak between $3.80 and $3.95. That’s compared to a peak of $3.92 per gallon last year, according to Gasbuddy.com.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that we may not hit that same level, we might come in just a little bit lower,” he said. “

Jarrad Rigsbee, also a Durham resident, said he thinks prices are too high. He said he has to do a lot of driving for work, and so has to buy if prices go up or not.

“It’s something you have to have,” he said. “They could make it $5 per gallon, and people would still buy it.”