By Justin Jones, Staff Writer
Monday, January, 14, 2013 —
When the warmer weather arrives in the spring, motorists should not be surprised to see gas prices surging along with the temperatures, according to AAA of the Carolinas.
AAA’s Public Relations Director Angela Daley said that like each year, the price increase is due to refineries switching to summer fuel blends.
“The summer fuel blends are cleaner burning because of issues with smog and pollution and when traffic goes up,” Daley said.
“Some areas are required to use these blends, and as refineries blend, they are less efficient because of switching to more expensive summer fuels.”
Daley said that even though the jump will be noticeable, it likely won’t have as strong as an effect as it had last year.
During the time refineries were nearing the switch to the summer blends, the United States had tensions with Iran, as they were threatening to block a major oil route.
“We don’t expect to see the same increase because those tensions aren’t as prominent right now,” she said.
“They will go up in April through early May, and then go down through first half of summer.”
As for the forecast of other issues that may cost motorists more at the pumps, Daley said that AAA didn’t see anything else on the horizon, but a hurricane could always change that situation.
“Hurricane season can be a big concern for gas prices,” she said.
But otherwise, there isn’t anything they see that will influence an unexpected jump in prices, such as supply issues or conflicts with other manufacturing countries.
“We do expect to see them lower than they were in 2012,” Daley said.
North Carolina’s gas prices peaked in April of 2012, falling just shy of $3.90 as the state average.
The lowest statewide average came in early December, as regular unleaded gasoline was priced at a statewide average under $3.30, according to data found through AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.
“For 2013, the big thing is the U.S. economy and how it performs. If it’s better, than gas prices are likely to be higher. And if it struggles than gas prices will probably stay lower,” Daley said.