A combination of factors colliding nationally and internationally appears poised to accelerate the rise of gas prices in Nashville, likely pushing $4 a gallon by spring and beyond that into the summer.
Earlier this week the American Automobile Association released a statement reporting that the price of gas and oil rose last week in the wake of improving economic conditions in the U.S. as well as news of a Greek bailout plan and rising uncertainty with Iran.
Such factors helped lead to a nine-month high in oil barrel prices and record February gas prices, according to the automobile club.
Last weekend the national average price for a gallon of gas was about $3.55, and Tennessee’s average was $3.48, up 4 cents from last week.
“A couple of weeks ago, it looked as if consumers might see some relief at the pump after oil prices traded below $100 a barrel for several consecutive weeks, but that is no longer the case,” Jessica Brady, AAA spokeswoman, said in a statement released Sunday. She added, “Retail gas prices are expected to increase further this week and will likely do so well into March, making $4 a gallon more of a reality come spring.”
On Wednesday, Jason Toews, co-founder of GasBuddy.com, purveyor of a website and smartphone app that allows users to report and view gas prices in their area, said he believed prices in Nashville would continue to rise over the next week at a clip of about 5 cents per gallon through this weekend and as much as 20 cents per gallon through next weekend.
Toews said the sharp increase is in part due to a fire at BP’s Cherry Point refinery fire last Friday in Washington state that has stopped approximately 230,000 barrels of oil a day and squeezed the supply of petroleum in that West Coast region and causing sporadic strain on supplies all the way to the East Coast.
As Toews added, several refineries going offline for routine maintenance won’t help the situation.
Gas prices will continue to rise, fluctuating over the next month or so, Toews said. “Over the next seven to 10 days here they’re going to go up quickly. They may plateau, even come down a little bit, but the long-term trend going toward Memorial Day is going to be to go much higher.”
Nashville’s average gas price sat around $3.55 Wednesday, according to NashvilleGasPrices.com, which is part of the GasBuddy.com network of sites that Toews operates. He believes, however, the reality of gas prices at $4.40 per gallon just before Memorial Day is likely.