However, motorists in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee could still see prices inch up another 10 cents in the next two weeks, because of rising wholesale gas prices due to ongoing seasonal maintenance at gulf coast refineries.”
During the month of March, gas prices rose four of the past five years for an average increase of 9 cents. At most, the national average rose 23 cents in 2011, but fell 14 cents in 2013. On average, gas prices rise 30-50 cents during the spring due to refinery maintenance and the switch to summer-blend fuel, which is more expensive to produce.
The rising price of oil, which has had the biggest influence on pushing pump prices higher, fell back below $50 a barrel this week. WTI settled at $49.76 on the NYMEX, after settling as high as $53.53 February 17. The EIA forecasts that WTI could average $55 a barrel this year.
“Gas prices should not reach $3 a gallon this year, especially if the price of oil remains below $60 a barrel,” Jenkins said. “Gas prices will be relatively volatile in the coming months, but should decline by the summer following the end of maintenance season.”