Utah gas prices jump sharply

Wednesday , June 12, 2013 - 6:48 PM

A covered wagon sits for sale in front of a gas station at the corner of 2700 North and Highway 89...

Jesus Lopez Jr.

OGDEN — Oil refinery problems in the Midwest have had a ripple effect in Utah’s gas prices.

A recent gas price survey shows that the state gas price average jumped 22 cents since last month.

AAA released results of a gas price survey that says the state average is about $3.73.

“Last month we saw a decrease, but for June, we’ve seen a large increase in the state of Utah,” AAA spokeswoman Cythia Harris said.

According to AAA, continued low supplies and transportation challenges for wholesale gasoline in the Chicago market, have contributed to the near record high gas prices. The ExxonMobil refinery in Joliet, Ill. and the BP refinery in Whiting, Ind. are undergoing maintenance, further shortening supply.

Even with the problems, the current average gas price in Utah is the same price as it was at the same time last year.

Motorists can look forward to prices stabilizing by the end of the month, Harris said.

“This is a temporary trend in Utah as it is throughout the nation,” Harris said. “Utah is kind of in a unique situation because of where it is based geographically.”

But for now, the increase is bad news for not only motorists, but businesses trying to bring customers into their stores.

Jim Sparrow, vice-president of Sparrow Home Furnishings said the price increase has not affected their deliveries yet, because the price of diesel has remained steady, but they have noticed less people in their show- rooms.

“It’s keeping our customers away,” Sparrow said. “It’s not so bad for delivery, we can handle that. It’s keeping people home. Keeping money out of their pocket to buy other things.”

Lucky Slice Pizza owner Mike McDonald said his restaurant has not felt the price jump yet.

Usually distributors pass on a fuel charge once a year and delivery drivers have grown to expect changes in gas prices.

“I think our generation has just become used to it with the crazy fluctuations back and forth,” McDonald said.

He remembers being a delivery driver when gas prices suddenly jumped by a dollar a gallon.

“Gas is a tough one,” McDonald said. “It’s something that we are never going to see go back down, it’s just going to continue to rise.”

Gasbuddy.com listed the lowest, nonmembership, gas prices for regular unleaded on Wednesday at $3.66 in Ogden and $3.63 in Layton.

Motorists in Logan experienced the largest increase of 40 cents with prices for regular unleaded gasoline at $3.80 a gallon. St. George had the lowest gas prices at $3.62 a gallon, after an 8 cent increase.

AAA officials said the price increase has affected 25 other states and Washington D.C. with the highest gas prices reported at $4.58 a gallon in Wailuku, Hawaii. Only 20 states have lower average prices than Utah.

To compile the Fuel Gauge Report, AAA officials surveyed more than 100,000 self-serve stations across the country.

Sparrow said he is unsure why prices keep increasing.

“I think there’s monkey business going on with the gas prices personally,” Sparrow said. “It just seems very convenient that every station goes up at once every time.”

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, prices should lower by next week and may change again during the July holiday season.

Until then, according to AAA, to get the best possible mileage, keep tires at the proper pressure, perform routine maintenance and ensure fluids are clean and belts and hoses are in good repair. Be sure to drive smoothly, avoiding sudden stops and starts, combine trips and lighten loads to further conserve gasoline.

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