Reporting Tim Williams
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Gas prices are surging and quickly inching to $4 per gallon. This February is the earliest gas prices have ever topped the $3.50 mark.
The Mid-Atlantic region has been hit exceptionally hard, and as Tim Williams reports, the end may not be in sight just yet.
It’s being called a “crude awakening.”
“Hey, you can’t do nothing but deal with it. I mean, you got to reach in your pocket and do what you got to do,” said Lester Bailey of West Baltimore.
Analysts anticipate the Mid-Atlantic region will become a hot spot for gasoline prices in the near future. The next 60 days will prove extremely volatile for fuel costs up and down the East Coast.
“In the spring, when the refineries switch over to the summer fuel blends, they are actually cleaner burning fuels and better for the environment,” said Ragina Averella of AAA Mid-Atlantic. “But unfortunately, they’re a little more expensive to refine and subsequently to produce and we then sometimes see gas prices increase.”
Add to that the idling of two Philadelphia area refineries in recent weeks and the threat of another closure soon, and prices may be headed to $4 per gallon in the coming weeks.
“2011 was the highest recorded average for the entire year for gas prices. Unfortunately, 2012 isn’t looking very promising at this point,” said Averella.
Midwest prices average $1 per gallon lower than here.
East Coast motorists have already endured two months of record-setting gas prices this year. Some drivers can only laugh at the impact.
“That’s right, but I’m still broke and in debt,” Bailey said.
Prices are expected to go higher by this summer if a third Philadelphia area refinery closes. A Sunoco refinery is expected to shut down by July 1 if a buyer is not found.
The national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gas is now $3.65. That is 12-cents higher than one week ago.