State gas price jump comes with low supply, vacation travel

mjohnson@bradenton.comApril 2, 2014 

Gas prices going up

MANATEE -- Spiking gasoline prices in the past week have made Florida the most expensive place to fill up in the Southeast, just in time for the end of spring break.

The statewide average price for a gallon of regular gasoline jumped 7 cents in the past week to $3.65 on Tuesday, 10 cents higher than the national average. The price is up 20 cents over the same time last month.

Analysts with AAA and the U.S. Energy Information Administration said the price jump coincides with a big increase in car travel among spring breakers, spring training baseball fans, seasonal residents and vacationers who have traveled to the state to escape the cold, snowy winter in northern states.

While the prices are high and are expected to continue increasing for the next week, drivers are in familiar territory. The price for a gallon of regular was virtually the same at this time last year. Analysts do not expect the price of regular fuel to top $4 a gallon.

Mark Jenkins, a Tampa-based spokesman for AAA, said March and April typically produce some of the biggest gas price hikes in the state. Florida gas consumption typically peaks in March. At the same time, petroleum supplies are low.

Maintenance shutdowns at regional refineries, and Florida's lack of gasoline pipeline connections are limiting fuel supplies in the state. Flori

da is serviced by only one gasoline pipeline, the Colonial Pipeline, which ends in Bainbridge, Ga.

"Florida differs from most other states," Jenkins said. "Fuel has to be tankered in or brought in on ships."

Despite the higher prices, deals could still be had in Bradenton. Citgo stations on Manatee Avenue priced their regular gas around $3.57 a gallon at the start of the week, according to a pricing survey done by the website GasBuddy.com.

Around the nation, the West Coast saw the highest average prices overall. Hawaii had the highest average price at $4.24 a gallon.

Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027, or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.

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