Why did gas prices jump 30 to 40 cents??

Posted at 6:10 AM, Mar 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-30 06:10:34-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — When I got wind of a hike in gas prices Tuesday, I checked my GasBuddy app: one station, at US-131 and West River Drive, had jumped to $2.19, while the typical price for regular unleaded was $1.81 to $1.88. By the end of the day, the typical price was around $2.19.

Why the jump?

“Demand for gasoline has skyrocketed in early 2016 compared to the last few years,” writes Will Speer on Speer blames low oil prices that lead to low gas prices, which means drivers feel free to drive more, which increases demand for gas.

Another reason for rising gas prices is the annual reformulation of gas at refineries in preparation for summer driving. That process has begun at some refineries, which cuts production while the reformulation is accomplished.

And while the typical price around West Michigan is $2.19, GasBuddy reports the average price for unleaded in Michigan is $2.004.

03-29-16 Graph oil prices risingDrivers are used to cycles of rising and falling gas prices, however, prices usually rise by 20 cents a gallon and drift back downward for a couple of weeks. Lately, there have been more increases than drops, and the projected trend is higher prices.

But gas price hikes this week don’t get us even close to previous high prices. “Gasoline prices still remain nearly 39 cents per gallon cheaper than a year ago,” says Speer.

And remember this price captured in April 2011: $4.17.

Gas price from April 2011.

Gas price from April 2011.