Latest gas price hike not because of cold weather

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 15, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE – Motorists may need to prepare themselves for some pain at the pump as local and national gas prices are on the rise and show no immediate sign of slowing down.

“We are entering the worst time of year for visiting the gas station,” AAA analyst Avery Ash said in his outlook for March gas prices.

Average retail gasoline prices in Louisiana have risen 0.4 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.23 per gallon as of March 13, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 2,436 gas outlets in Louisiana.

The average price of gas per gallon in LaPlace as of March 13 was $3.17.

The reason for rising prices has nothing to do with price gouging, increased demand or geopolitical instability. It all comes down to one thing: seasonal refinery maintenance.

We’re now in the time of year when refiners switch from producing the so-called winter blend to the cleaner-burning summer gasoline formula.

Gas prices typically rise this time of year because many refineries cut production to conduct seasonal maintenance. This maintenance generally takes place between strong demand periods for heating oil in the winter and gasoline in the summer.

“As refinery maintenance season is now in its prime, and will be for several weeks, motorists could see additional volatility at the pump should issues or unexpected problems arise with this period of maintenance,” said Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. “There tend to be glitches and issues restarting these plants, and the progressive switchover to various blends of gasoline complicates matters further.”

DeHaan added that as refineries get back on line prices will slow their climb, but “all of that light at the end of the tunnel remains several weeks away.”