Gas Prices Top $4 A Gallon

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The average price for regular gasoline in Connecticut is up to $4.01 per gallon, with an increase of 20 cents per gallon in just the last two weeks, according to AAA.

Connecticut’s prices are the fourth-highest average for regular gasoline in the country after Hawaii, Alaska and California, according to AAA. The last time the statewide average for regular gasoline hit the $4.00 mark was October 21, 2012.

Hartford fell below the state average at $3.98, up about 2 cents from yesterday and 21 cents from a week ago. The current U.S. average for regular gas is $3.65, up one cent from yesterday’s average and 15 cents from a week ago.

“Gas prices had been stable since around Memorial Day – they remained right around 3.79 to 3.80 from Memorial Day to around the Fourth of July,” said Aaron Kupec, public affairs manager for AAA Allied Group in Connecticut.

In the northeast, the recent increase is due to higher global crude oil prices, primarily due to unrest in Egypt, as well as production issues at refineries that traditionally supply the area, AAA said in a statement.

The busy driving season during summer also factors in the hike, though the number of drivers who travelled for the Independence Day holiday was down 0.9 percent from last year, Kupec said.

“The weather might be the biggest factor in all of this. We’re really just at the beginning of the hurricane season,” said Gregg Laskoski, Senior Petroleum Analyst at GasBuddy. “Especially when you know what happened with Hurricane Sandy, you know how much volatility can be created when just one storm makes landfall.”

If a refinery has to shut down due to weather conditions, it takes about a week to fully shut down and a couple of weeks to get them fully running again, he said.

Unless there are major market developments and given all the factors at play, gas prices will likely continue to rise for the next few weeks, Kupec said.

“For the balance of July, motorists should expect to see a run-up in prices,” he said. “After that, it gets more difficult to predict.”

Connecticut’s highest recorded average is $4.39, set on July 9, 2008. The highest recorded average in the U.S. is $4.11 from July 17, 2008.

Gregory Brown, an employee at the Founders Plaza Sunoco, said the higher prices have impacted business at the gas station.

“There’s been less purchases, and less customers, also,” he said. And though the station does tend to see fewer customers in the summer while people are away on vacation, Brown said: “It is less than normal.”

At Scott’s Avon Mobile, employee Greg Shepard said that due to the station’s location they get the same amount of people because the local residents are used to paying the additional cost, but the customers are buying in less quantity.

“We get a lot more complaints, but the same amount of people,” he said. “I have noticed that we get a lot more $25, $20 and $10 [sales]. People are trying to conserve.”

Text by Sameea Kamal, Hartford Courant; video by Mike Magnoli, Fox CT

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