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  /  World News   /  It’s rising gas price season

It’s rising gas price season

(NewsNation) — Don’t panic. That’s the word from the people who monitor the price of gasoline when it comes to some sharp price hikes this spring.

“Gas prices are a lot like seasonal temperatures.  They start to rise with the arrival of spring,” according to AAA spokesman Andrew Gross. He also says concern about Russia’s refineries coming under Ukrainian attack has been a factor in rising world prices.

“But those concerns have abated somewhat for now, and gas prices are settling into a pattern similar to last year when the usual seasonal increase was slow and steady.”

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Still, the short-term hikes have raised eyebrows in states like Utah, which saw prices rise by around 26 cents a gallon last week and by more than 60 cents over the past month. Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Nevada have also seen big hikes in March, ranging from 42 to 52 cents a gallon.

Some regular annual events helped raise prices every spring, such as more of us driving as the weather improves, and refineries switching to less-polluting gas formulas for summer.

But any price drop linked to the increase in U.S. production has been blunted by production cuts from the OPEC countries. That international uncertainty has helped push the price of U.S. crude up by 16% to $83.17 a barrel as of March 29.

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Looking to profit from that spike, U.S. refineries have stepped on the gas when it comes to production. And that increased supply will eventually push down prices.

Patrick De Haan, head petroleum analyst at GasBuddy, tells Forbes he expects average gas prices to reach a peak in April and May, then back off to as little as $2.99 per gallon by the end of this year.

AAA’s nationwide average for a gallon of unleaded regular on March 31 is $3.53. California leads the nation with an average price just under $5.10. Kansas has the cheapest gas: $3.16 on average.