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Chicago Gas Prices Up More Than 10 Percent In January

By Mike Brockway | February 7, 2013 11:49am | Updated on February 7, 2013 12:41pm
 Chicago drivers are seeing dramatically higher prices at the gas pump.
Chicago drivers are seeing dramatically higher prices at the gas pump.
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At gas pumps all over Chicago, local drivers are getting some ominous news — gas prices have jumped dramatically in the last month.

After enjoying four months of declining fuel prices and some of the lowest prices in the last few years, Chicagoans have seen local gas prices rise more than 10 percent, according to two websites tracking area pump prices.

According to AAA's Fuel Gauge Report, the average cost for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the city has increased from $3.58 per gallon to $3.97 a gallon, a 39-cent bump. The price rose 20 cents just in the last week.

ChicagoGasPrices.com, which tracks pricing for the Chicago metro area, reports that the cost of fuel has risen 42 cents a gallon, or 12 percent, in the last 30 days. Local gas has gone from $3.44 a gallon to $3.86 a gallon in the last month.

"Prices in Chicago are spiking, and have been in this upward direction for a week or so," said Patrick DeHaan, a petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com. "It's been ugly."

Prices are not just rising in Chicago, but across the the nation, according to Beth Mosher of AAA Chicago.  But prices have risen an average of 6 percent nationally, about half of the increase here.

"It's going on across the country," said Mosher. "So this isn't just germane to Chicago and Illinois. Higher prices [are] due to higher oil prices, some refinery issues and decreased supply."

DeHaan agreed with Mosher on the root causes of the local price bump.

"There are some small factors only in the Great Lakes," said DeHaan. "A refinery explosion last week caused wholesale prices to rise, but other than that, rising oil prices and refinery maintenance are likely the biggest causes."

While the fact that current gas prices are above last year's prices may seem ominous because of 2012's record-shattering highs, both DeHaan and Mosher said they were confident Chicago motorists won't see a repeat of last year.

"AAA at the outset of the year actually thought we'd see a tamer year in terms of gas prices," said Mosher. "We do think these high spikes may be short-term."

"I don't necessarily believe that drivers should expect to see new price highs," DeHaan said, referring to the $4.56-a-gallon record pricing last year. "I don't believe, barring a significant situation, seeing prices worse than 2012."