Florida gas prices tick up 2 cents, should dip after New Year

Driven by rising oil prices and a pipeline explosion in North Africa, gas prices ticked up a bit this week.

However, the increases should prove only temporary, predicted Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA-The Auto Club Group.

“We may see moderate increases at the pump this week, but the downward trend should resume in the new year,” Jenkins said. “After the holidays, gasoline demand takes a sharp turn lower, because fewer people take extended road trips in January.”

The average gas price in Florida rose to $2.37 a gallon Wednesday, up from $2.35 on Christmas Day, AAA-The Auto Club Group said Wednesday.

The small increase reverses a trend of falling pump prices. Gas prices had been falling steadily over the past six weeks, dipping 18 cents since mid-November.

Rising oil prices are pushing pump prices higher. The price of a barrel of oil hit $60 Tuesday, the commodity’s first flirtation with that threshold since June 2015. Oil prices jumped after an explosion at a Libyan pipeline that feeds a major export terminal. In another supply constraint, a major pipeline in the North Sea requires repairs.

Palm Beach County, with an average price of $2.51 a gallon, has the priciest petrol in Florida. However, several stations still were selling gas for $2.22 a gallon as of Tuesday, according to GasBuddy.com.

Other expensive gas markets include Miami ($2.49) and Naples ($2.45). Tampa is the cheapest at $2.29, followed by Jacksonville ($2.30) and Orlando ($2.31).

Gas prices should dip for the winter, but Jenkins warned of a spring surge of 30 cents to 70 cents a gallon as oil refineries conduct scheduled maintenance.

Florida motorists have enjoyed low gas prices for much of 2017. After falling as low as $2.13 in July, the state’s average pump price hit a peak of $2.73 in early September, after Hurricane Harvey hit Gulf Coast refineries and as Hurricane Irma threatened Florida.

The highest price on record is $4.11 a gallon, recorded in July 2008.

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