Gas prices across NC surge – but why?

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Gas prices across North Carolina jumped 16 cents in the past month, up from $3.38 to $3.54 per gallon, according to AAA Carolinas.

The average price remains 7 cents below last year’s average of $3.61.

After falling throughout the autumn months, gas prices in North Carolina hit a low of $3.22 on Dec. 20, 2012, and slowly rose until mid-January when they began to increase rapidly.

Special report: Why are gas prices rising?

Prices should remain within pennies of today’s prices for the upcoming three-day Presidents Day weekend, with many companies giving employees Monday off.

The surge in gas prices is due in part to higher crude oil prices, driven by positive economic news, both domestic and global. Additionally, refineries are preparing to switch to summer-blend gasoline, which restricts output and tightens supply.

In 2012, gas prices in North Carolina rose to a high for the year of $3.91 on April 6.

In South Carolina, gas prices average $3.35 per gallon today, up 14 cents from a month ago, but still 6 cents cheaper than a year ago.

U.S. gasoline prices jumped nearly a quarter per gallon over the past two weeks as higher crude oil prices and refinery shutdowns drove prices upward, a nationwide survey reports.

The average price of a gallon of regular stood at $3.59 a gallon on Friday, according to the latest Lundberg Survey. That’s up 24.75 cents from the survey’s previous canvass of roughly 2,500 filling stations in the continental United States on January 25, publisher Trilby Lundberg told CNN.

“The price had been falling. It bottomed out in late December,” Lundberg said. “Wholesale gasoline price hikes were already occurring, and they took on speed in these two weeks. Retailers are feeling the pinch.”

While U.S. crude prices have stayed relatively stable, prices on international markets have gone up substantially in recent weeks. And both planned outages and unscheduled maintenance as American refineries gear up for higher demand in the spring and summer have put a crimp in supply, she said.

The highest average prices in the latest Lundberg Survey were in Los Angeles, at $4.10 a gallon. The lowest were found in Billings, Montana, at $3.05.