NC gas prices jump 15 cents in one monthState average at $3.53 per gallon
CHARLOTTE — Gas prices in North Carolina jumped 15 cents in the past month, up from $3.38 on March 8 to $3.53 per gallon today, according to AAA Carolinas.
North Carolinians are paying the highest price for gas since July 27, 2013, when the state average was $3.54. After starting 2014 at $3.31 on Jan. 1, gas prices fell to a year-low of $3.28 on Feb. 8before starting to rise.
"Spring is a difficult time for drivers, when gas prices typically rise due to refinery maintenance," said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. "The tightened supply throughout the country results in higher gas prices."
Beyond seasonal maintenance, refineries must also make the switch to summer fuel blends by May 1. Additionally, demand starts to rise as more families travel when the weather gets warmer. About 90 percent of gas in North Carolina comes from refineries along the Gulf Coast.
In 2013, North Carolina gas prices peaked for the year at $3.80 on Feb. 22. In 2012, they peaked at $3.91 on April 6. In 2011, they peaked at $3.88 on May 6.
In spite of the increase, the March average of $3.40 is the lowest monthly average for March since 2010, when the average was $2.75.
- March 2013 - $3.69
- March 2012 - $3.79
- March 2011 - $3.51
- March 2010 - $2.75
The first-quarter average for 2014 was $3.34, compared to $3.56 in 2013. The North Carolina state average has remained lower than the year-ago average for 96 consecutive days.
Gas prices are expected to continue to rise until refinery maintenance is complete, likely by the end of April. Although demand continues to rise with warmer weather, increased production will allow supply levels to keep up with that demand.
Overall, AAA Carolinas expects gas prices for 2014 to be slightly cheaper than 2013. However, unexpected developments such as major refinery problems or geopolitical concerns could result in higher prices.