An oil pipeline break in rural Adams County is only one of the reasons gas prices shot up Wednesday in Wisconsin cities, a AAA spokeswoman said.
Auto club AAA said the statewide average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline went up 4.5 cents in one day to $3.632, with drivers in Janesville and Milwaukee seeing prices rise more than 6 cents.
In La Crosse, drivers are paying $3.64 per gallon for regular. That’s a 10 cent increase from last week, when gas was at $3.549.
The price increases for gas in July are the largest for the month in a dozen years, and the first monthly increase since March.
And analysts expect prices to go even higher before summer ends.
AAA spokeswoman Pam Moen said four things driving up gas prices in the upper Midwest, including the Enbridge Energy pipeline break near Grand Marsh, which resulted in 1,200 barrels of oil being spilled before the line was shut down.
“We have two pipeline issues and two refinery issues right now that are affecting the prices,” Moen said.
The Enbridge pipeline carries light crude oil from Canada to Chicago area refineries. The West Shore pipeline services Green Bay and Upper Michigan, and there’s a BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana, and a Citgo refinery in Lamont, Illinois.
“These situations are tightening gas supplies in the Midwest, which drives up the price,” Moen said.
Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst from GasBuddy.com expects “a majority of gas stations to have increased prices at least 10-35 cents per gallon by Friday evening,” according to a press release.
He said the situation will be “temporary in nature,” but prices will “remain high” as long as problems with the pipeline and refineries continue.
In the six metropolitan markets in Wisconsin surveyed by AAA for the daily fuel gauge report, Madison drivers are paying the least for regular at an average $3.592 a gallon, followed by Janesville at $3.596, Green Bay at $3.613, La Crosse, Milwaukee at $3.653 and Eau Claire at $3.701.
Rising oil prices and greater demand for gas in the summer driving season are the primary factors in a national increase.
“We had some relief in gas prices earlier this year and the outlook was good, but the tensions in Iran put pressure on oil prices, so gas prices started going back up,” Moen said.
Hawaii still has the highest average price for regular in the U.S. at $4.146 a gallon, while South Carolina has the lowest average at $3.221.
AAA said gas prices should be flat or slightly higher in August, then start to come down after Labor Day when the summer driving season ends and demand typically decreases.