"The storm has definitely had an impact on oil production. With that said, it looks like the worst is behind us."
Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA Auto Club South
MANATEE -- An estimated 1.4 million Floridians will hit the highway for a road trip during this holiday weekend.
And this year, they will be paying a bit more to get there.
Prices at the pump are on the rise for Labor Day, as Tropical Storm Isaac took grip of the Gulf oil supply and a recent explosion at Venezuela's largest refinery halted production.
Fuel analysts expect the spike to be short-lived, with prices slowly sliding down again following the holiday.
"The storm has definitely had an impact on oil production," said Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA Auto Club South. "With that said, it looks like the worst is behind us. If everything else is constant, prices should begin moving in the other direction -- dropping though September."
The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the Bradenton-Sarasota market Friday was $3.78, a nine-penny jump in one week.
A month ago gas in Bradenton was $3.40 a gallon, and during the same time last year it ran $3.55, according to AAA.
Across Florida the average is one-cent higher at $3.79, which also is up eight cents in a week.
The increases were fanned largely by threats tied to Isaac, forcing refineries in the Gulf that produce 25 percent of U.S. oil to temporarily shut down as a precaution.
Although no major damage was reported, that process resulted in the loss of nearly 3 million barrels, Jenkins said.
Barring another storm, prices now will ease as demand for driving slows.
Refineries also will soon make the switch to their winter fuel blends, which are less costly to produce.
Josh Salman, Herald business writer, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter@JoshSalman