National average gas price increases for first time in 20 days

The national average gasoline price rose Tuesday.

The national average gasoline price rose Tuesday and was up again today

Uh-oh. The predicted rise in gasoline prices appears to have begun.

The national average price of gas increased Tuesday for the first time in 20 days to $1.70, and rose again Wednesday to $1.71, but average prices are still at levels not seen since January 2009, AAA said.

The national average has fallen for 42 out of 47 days this year for a total savings of 30 cents per gallon. Today’s average price of $1.70 represents a savings of three cents per gallon on the week, 20 cents per gallon on the month and 55 cents per gallon compared to this same date last year.

Palm Beach County’s average for a gallon of regular is holding steady at $1.90 a gallon, and has not begun to increase yet, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report.

Typical for this time of year, refinery production is beginning to drop as many refineries prepare for seasonal maintenance in advance of the summer driving season, AAA said.

In addition, some refineries reportedly have cut production because of abundant supplies and low prices. This decline in production has led to higher prices throughout the Midwest and slowed recent declines in the national average price of gas.

Industry analysts expect this year’s spring maintenance season to peak in April, and pump prices are likely to rise in the coming months due to fluctuations in supply and demand associated with this process.

However, unlike previous years, gasoline inventories are reportedly at higher-than-normal levels and the price of crude oil remains low. The combination of these two factors should help keep gas prices relatively low compared to recent years, though prices are likely to be a good deal higher by Memorial Day than they are today.

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