U.S. average gas prices have increased seven days in a row for a total of two cents per gallon, AAA reported on Feb. 2. The up tick comes after gas prices had fallen for a record 123 consecutive days to $2.03 per gallon before increasing last week for the first time since Sept. 25.
According to Avery Ash, an AAA spokesman, it is common to see prices at the pump increase during this time of year due to refinery issues.
AAA expects gas prices to increase this month due to refinery maintenance and decreased production. It is not uncommon for gas prices to increase 30-50 cents per gallon between early February and the middle of spring. Gas prices in February have increased during the previous five years by an average of 22 cents per gallon.
Ash predicted drivers will be paying more for gas in March than they are today.
Still, gas prices should remain less expensive than in recent years due to lower crude oil costs. AAA does not expect the national average price of gas to rise above $3 per gallon in 2015.
It is possible that gas prices could rise more slowly or even drop if there are further significant declines in the cost of crude oil. At this point, the crude oil market remains very volatile and it is possible that crude oil supplies could build further during refinery maintenance season. A significant reduction in crude oil prices could limit any prices increases due to refinery maintenance, AAA noted.
Another factor is that many refineries conduct maintenance and upgrades in the spring to prepare equipment for the busy summer driving season. This maintenance can reduce gasoline production at a time when both driving and gasoline demand rises as the weather improves.
For now, however, AAA noted that 52% of U.S. stations are selling gas for less than $2 per gallon today. The most common price in the country is $1.999 per gallon.