Gas prices poised to spike in Cen­tral Florida

Orlando Sentinel - - BUSINESS - By Kyle Arnold Staff Writer karnold@or­lan­dosen­tinel.com, 407-420-5664, Twit­ter: @kyle­larnold or face­book.com/bykylearnold

Gas prices are set to spike in Cen­tral Florida by as much as 25 cents.

A gal­lon of reg­u­lar un­leaded dropped in price by about 1 cent last week to $2.54 a gal­lon here, while gas prices in the rest of the coun­try went up by five cents. The na­tional av­er­age for gas is now $2.71, while whole­sale prices con­tinue to climb.

That means Or­lando could see prices in the high $2.70s soon, said Mark Jenk­ins, a spokesman for AAA.

“It’s pretty un­usual for the state to be so far be­low the na­tional av­er­age,” Jenk­ins said. “Part of that has to do with prices climb­ing in other states, but not here.”

Florida’s av­er­age price is $2.62 a gal­lon. Or­lando’s fuel price av­er­age is near the low­est in the state, and only a frac­tion of a penny higher than Tampa, where a sim­i­lar mix of na­tional gas sta­tion brands usu­ally cre­ates match­ing prices.

Gas prices have been climb­ing across the coun­try in the past few weeks be­cause of ten­sions in Syria, the usual spring in­crease in fuel prices be­cause of re­fin­ery main­te­nance and pro­duc­tion cuts from OPEC mem­bers.

“In the past few years, we’ve had such an abun­dance of crude oil that in­ter­na­tional prob­lems re­ally didn’t faze the oil mar­ket,” Jenk­ins said. “But the re­cent OPEC cuts have made that a lit­tle tighter.”

Oil is trad­ing at its high­est since May 2015, as prices have in­creased about 8 per­cent in the past 10 days. A bar­rel of crude was trad­ing for about $66.60 in mid­day trad­ing on the New York Mer­can­tile Ex­change on Mon­day.

While Or­lando’s gas prices are low, a hand­ful of cities in the Mid­west and Gulf Coast are sell­ing gas as low as $2.30 a gal­lon, ac­cord­ing to gas price track­ing ser­vice GasBuddy.com.

Mean­while, de­mand for gaso­line in the United States is es­sen­tially flat from last year.

But gas prices could be com­ing up be­cause whole­sale gas prices on the Gulf Coast rose by 15 cents a gal­lon last week, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. En­ergy In­for­ma­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“The rest of the coun­try is ad­just­ing to those higher whole­sale prices, and we just haven’t got­ten there yet,” Jenk­ins said.

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