Just when Carolinians were enjoying the lowest prices at the gas pump since 2009, costs have ticked upward overnight. In some metro areas in the Carolinas the increase has been between one to three cents in less than 24 hours -and the upward trend could continue.
The increase comes on the heels of gas prices falling nationally for a record 123 consecutive days before inching higher last Tuesday, Jan.27.
Gas prices are typically low during the winter months as motorists limit extended driving. However, it is not uncommon for gas prices to increase by 30 to 50 cents per gallon between early February and the middle of spring as refineries shut down for maintenance.
“Unfortunately we expect gas prices to continue to rise gradually in the upcoming weeks,” said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. “However, barring any events that could cause global oil prices to greatly increase, we believe we won’t see three dollars per gallon in 2015.”
Along with increasing seasonal demand, there is a new issue on the horizon that could potentially play a factor in gas prices.
Members of the United Steelworkers Union, who work at nine refineries that produce almost 10 percent of U.S. gasoline, were on strike for a third day on Tuesday. USW is pushing for a new contract with oil companies and if an agreement is not met and the strike continues, motorists could see an increase at the pump.
“So far our supply domestically has been out-weighing our demand,” said Parsons. “Once supply is threatened, prices go up and that could result in a ripple effect throughout the Carolinas.”
Right now North Carolina’s statewide average is $2.05 while South Carolina at $1.87, joins 24 states registering averages below $2 per gallon.