JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Gasoline prices shot up 7 cents last week, taking the current national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.25. Motorists are now paying 19 cents more than they did at the beginning of the month.
"Gasoline prices almost always rise in February," said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins. "The rate of increase slowed over the weekend, but motorists should expect more volatility at the pump for the next couple of months."
Since 2000, February gas prices rose every year except 2001. On average, February gas prices rose 22 cents during the past five years. Gas prices are up 25 cents in Florida and 19 cents in Georgia since Feb. 1.
"Pump prices have already exceeded the February average in some states due to the rising price of oil and refinery maintenance," said Jenkins. "While recent increases could create concern, motorists should be relieved to know that gas prices are still more than a dollar cheaper than this time last year, and should not reach $3 this year."
Refineries have begun maintenance season which usually leads to price hikes of 30-50 cents during the spring. This is one of two times a year that refineries do maintenance on their machinery and switch to a cleaner-burning "summer-blend" fuel, as required by the Environmental Protection Agency. This trend, coupled with wildly volatile crude prices have pushed U.S. pump prices 22 cents above mid-January lows.