With the summer driving season in full swing, gasoline hit $4 a gallon Monday at metro-east stations -- the first time it's hit that mark this year.
In the course of about a week, gas prices jumped 60 cents -- or 16 percent -- in the metro-east.
Last weekend a gallon of regular unleaded was going for $3.39 at most Belleville area stations. By Wednesday it had jumped to an average of $3.59. And on Friday morning it was selling for $3.79. After three 20-cent jumps in that time period, the cost had increased by Monday to $3.99.
"I don't really understand why it's happening," said 37-year-old Brian Reese of Waterloo while pumping gas at the Circle K station at Illinois 159 and Route 13 in Belleville. "I was expecting it to go up for the Fourth (of July), but now we're paying more."
According to national reports, they could be poised to go up even more. Crude oil production output in Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries fell by 370,000 barrel's a day in June because of violence in Iraq, Libya and Nigeria. Political unrest in Egypt also is to blame for creating uncertainty about the oil supply. Egypt is not a major oil-producing country.
AAA-St. Louis spokesman Mike Right said the recent rise in oil prices probably is what's fueling the cost of gas as the price has soared to more than $106.50 a barrel, which is its highest price since March 2012.
"I am not aware of any glitch in the distribution system or any major outages at refineries," Right said, referring to other factors that usually lead to spikes in fuel prices. "It's just a general price increase associated with the rise of crude oil cost.
This is the first time this year unleaded gasoline prices have reach $3.99 per gallon since a year ago. According to AAA records, Monday was the anniversary of the record average per-gallon cost for regular unleaded gasoline recorded in the metro-east, $4.20. Some stations reached as high as $4.49 a gallon for unleaded fuel briefly before prices fell.
"There's not much you can do about it," said 31-year-old Michael Bujnak while getting gas in Belleville. "I need gas. What are my other options?"