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Gas Prices Increase in Western Pennsylvania, Nationally

  Western Pennsylvania gas prices have increased within the past few weeks, but before too much panic sets in, Chelsea Pompeani of AAA East Central says this rise isn’t unusual for the time of year.

The director of public affairs said gas prices normally increase during spring because the price of crude oil rises.

“So this is really expected, but what we do want to tell people is that gas prices are still significantly lower than they were this time last year, so that is good news,” Pompeani said.

The average price per gallon in western Pennsylvania this week is $2.72 compared to $3.77 a year ago while the national average is currently $2.53.  Pompeani said Pennsylvania’s average price is more expensive, in part, because the state has the highest gas taxes.

However, she noted other contributing factors, especially some refinery production issues on the west coast.

“Well we saw this out in California a couple of weeks ago, there was a fire at the Exxon Mobil, and when you’re dealing with things like that, unexpected issues like that, and then the cleanup that goes in after it, the price of gasoline will rise.”

She also cited geopolitical tensions in Yemen for the increase.  The country is suffering from a nearly month-long bombing campaign led by Saudi Arabia and a coalition of other Arab countries.

“When there is unrest overseas, and when we need to rely on countries like Yemen or other countries that we depend on their foreign oil, and there is unrest over in their countries…crude oil is going to be more expensive,” Pompeani said.

As of Friday, crude oil was $57.15 per barrel, up nearly $6 from two weeks earlier.

She said there is a chance that gas prices could dip below $2.50 per gallon again.

“Last year gas peaked around April 18th, and we’re at the 28th now, so we do expect the same thing this year,” Pompeani said. “And after the peak we do expect gas to drop a little bit until the real driving season occurs, and that would be around July/August because more people are driving, and there’s more demand.”

But she said a decrease depends on what happens with the cost of crude oil.

Jess is from Elizabeth Borough, PA and is a junior at Duquesne University with a double major in journalism and public relations. She was named as a fellow in the WESA newsroom in May 2013.
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