Local gas prices have been falling, but the lower prices at the pump will not last long.
According to the latest figures from online gas price tracker GasBuddy.com, many metro-east gas stations are selling regular unleaded fuel for $2.22 — down by about 30 cents within the past week.
The cost of regular unleaded gasoline has been falling within the past month, but the relief will only be temporary as the coming seasonal switch from winter- to summer-blended fuel will send prices back up.
GasBuddy.com petroleum analyst Patrick DeHann said the seasonal mandated summer-blend fuel is a federal regulation that is both more expensive for consumers and environmentally friendly.
With the coming switch, DeHaan said he expects the average $2.36 per-gallon cost of regular unleaded at metro-east stations to increase by 10 to 20 cents within the next two weeks across the Midwest.
“I would say that over the next couple of weeks prices will probably go up to $2.50 to $2.65 a gallon,” DeHaan said. “It is $2.36 average today, but that is $1.25 lower than a year ago.”
Within the past six months, the nation’s gas prices have recorded the largest drop in prices in recent history. According to GasBuddy, gas stations across Illinois have seen regular unleaded prices drop an average of $1.23 within the last six months.
Statistics from AAA reveal that the average price for metro-east regular unleaded fuel is $1.15 lower than a year ago. AAA spokesman Mike Right said increasing crude oil supply has recently driven down prices.
Crude oil is currently below $50 a barrel as expanding domestic oil production pushed regular unleaded gas prices below $3 a gallon late last year and temporarily below $2 a gallon earlier this year. But Right also foresees rising prices coming.
“What’s going on with crude oil is it affects the price of gasoline as it is going up and down,” Right said. “Some days it comes down 4 or 5 cents, and the next day it is up 3 cents. This is the time of year when you will see a lot of adjustments up and down. I guarantee it is headed north.”