Motorists cringe at rising cost of gas

Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 10:26 AM.

It affects everybody and is virtually unavoidable: gasoline prices are on the rise again.

The average price for a gallon of gas in Florida is now $3.87, 10 cents higher than a week ago and 10 cents higher than the national average, according to AAA Auto Club.

Although prices are expected to continue to climb in the coming weeks, AAA spokeswoman Jessica Brady said there are signs of improvement in the marketplace.

“We have been paying record-breaking prices for the month of February,” Brady said. “We’re starting to see a bit of slowdown in the rate of increase now. It’s likely we could see prices increase throughout the next couple of weeks, but that rate of increase is really starting to slow down and we’re even seeing a little bit of stability in some markets.”

Brady said three factors have led to the price hike.

Usually, the oil refineries reduce their operations in mid- to late February for annual maintenance, which cuts the amount of gasoline they produce. This year, Brady said the refineries’ maintenance shutdowns started in early February, which has affected prices more than normal.

Also, the prices for crude oil started increasing in December, but it wasn’t until the end of January that prices at the pump started going up nationally. The final factor is that refineries are starting to produce the more expensive summer fuel blend.

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