Gas prices jump; little relief in sight
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain firstname.lastname@example.org February 16, 2013 8:29PM
Traffic moves past a BP gas station off Jefferson St. Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, in Shorewood. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT RISING GAS PRICES
“Too much money. They’re making a fortune on us. Too big a price jump all at once.”
“It’s too high. You can’t do anything about it. Wall Street’s got their speculators.”
“I remember when gas was 32 cents a gallon in the ’60s.”
“I think it’s just really out of control. And someone needs to do something about it now, because people cannot afford to drive.”
Updated: February 16, 2013 9:04PM
Gas prices are surging along with economic demand.
“As the economy starts to heat back up, not only here but worldwide, that is creating more demand,” said Jim Watson, executive director of the Illinois Petroleum Council.
The average price of a gallon of gas in the Joliet area on Wednesday was $3.89, up from $3.79 last week and $3.35 last month, according to AAA.
The price for a barrel of oil rose from about $85 in mid-December to almost $100 a barrel more recently, Watson said.
“When the price of crude goes up, you’re going to mirror that at the pump,” he said.
Demand for oil is really strong in China and India, which has pushed the 2013 forecast for oil use to 90 million barrels a day, up from 85 million barrels a day in 2009 when the global economy was still reeling, he explained.
Refineries are going to have to get more efficient to keep up, he said.
“It is a global resource and there is a global demand.”
The average price of regular unleaded gas in the Chicago metro area is $3.93, up 10 cents from a week ago and 51 cents from a month ago.
Problems with refineries in the Midwest region have exacerbated the problem, energy analyst Phil Flynn said.
The BP refinery in Whiting, Ind., is undergoing major maintenance, causing production to decrease, Flynn said. A fire at a PBF Energy refinery in Toledo, Ohio, caused a temporary shutdown, which helped to slow production in the Midwest.
“Chicago is usually the poster child in the Midwest for higher gas prices due to higher taxes and refinery issues,” Flynn said.
Illinois adds a 19-cent tax to every gallon of gas sold in addition to a 6.25 percent sales tax, Watson said. Those taxes are added to the 18.4-cent a gallon federal tax and municipal and county taxes. For instance, Chicago adds 6 cents a gallon and Cook County adds 11 cents a gallon. In Joliet, the gas tax is 1 cent a gallon.
The approached switch to summer-blend gasoline also is a contributing factor to rising prices at the pump, according to the AAA, which expects that rising prices “will slow as temporary production concerns are addressed.”
A temporary break in prices is possible but would increase by the end of March, in time for the summer driving season, Flynn said.
The Herald-News reporter Tony Graf and the Chicago Sun-Times contributed to this story.