Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Heathrow, FL, United States (4E) – Brace for higher gas prices this spring — as expensive as $2.70 a gallon.
The non-profit American Automobile Association (AAA), which has about 60 million members in the USA and Canada, projects the spike in gas prices to occur in April or early summer. AAA said this is the time when oil and gas refineries switch over to their summer-grade fuel, which is more expensive.
AAA said the last time gas reached $2.50 a gallon was the spring/summer of 2015, when prices hit $2.81 a gallon. It also predicts motorists in California might see gas reach $4 a gallon this spring, but the spike will be temporary. Other experts don’t expect gas prices this year to reach the levels of 2011 to 2014, when the average gas price was $3.47 a gallon.
“There is tremendous volatility in the oil and gasoline market,” said AAA spokesperson Jeanette Casselano. “This spring, consumers may have to make decisions on where they can cut costs to cover gas prices that are potentially 40 cents more per gallon than last spring.”
Summer-grade fuel is a lot pricey because of its ingredients and because refineries have to briefly shut down before they begin processing it. Summer-grade fuel also burns cleaner than winter-grade fuel.
Fuel supply changes twice every year in the United States in a changeover known as the “seasonal gasoline transition.” This change is the biggest reason for price hikes in summer gasoline.
Depending on the time of year, gas stations switch between providing summer-grade fuel and winter-grade fuel. The switch started in 1995 as part of the Reformulated Gasoline Program (RFG), which was established through the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments.
Global crude oil markets have also seen higher prices. Brent crude oil hit $70.05 a barrel January, its highest level since 2014. West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. standard, reached $64 a gallon. Some analysts forecast oil to reach $80 a barrel within the year.
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