Gas prices bouncing upward

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Elliot Hughes
August 13, 2015

JANESVILLE -- Early Wednesday, gas prices in Wisconsin and most of the Lake Michigan area were well below the national average of $2.60 a gallon.

Well, things change.

By late Wednesday, motorists were reporting to The Gazette that gas prices at some Janesville gas stations had increased 20 cents since morning.

By Thursday, gas prices all over the Lake Michigan region soared above the national average, according to GasBuddy.com, which tracks fuel prices.

Wednesday, gas prices in Wisconsin sat at about $2.58 a gallon, while the going rate in Madison was $2.48, according to GasBuddy.com. Prices had been steadily falling since mid-June.

But overnight, the state's prices leaped to $2.71 a gallon. Madison now sits at $2.66. The national average bumped up to $2.64 Thursday.

Prices in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana went from below-average prices to above-average in the same span. Illinois, already above the national average, climbed further above it Thursday.

And the upward trajectory not expected to end soon. Gregg Laskoski, a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, attributed the price surge to a partial shutdown of a massive BP Whiting Refinery in northern Indiana. It shut down the largest of three crude distillation units Saturday for what the company in a statement called “unscheduled repair work.” BP says that the rest of the refinery is operating at reduced production.

“It has a capacity of over 400,000 barrels per day of production, so when you take something that sizable out of the equation, it's really difficult to fill the void,” Laskoski said.

Laskoski couldn't speculate as to how long it would take for the refinery to return to normal production, but he expects prices to continue their ascent for several weeks.

“I think they'll continue to rise but hopefully not as aggressively as we've seen in the last 24 hours,” he said. “It could be sometime before we start to see these prices return to the level we were at just a week ago.”

At Lions Quick Mart, along Milton Avenue in Janesville, the price surge did not go unnoticed by patrons Thursday. The pumps there had regular, unleaded gas at $2.59 a gallon.

Brett Boe, 37, was passing through Janesville on his way to Minnesota by way of Illinois. He said prices were above $3 a gallon in the Joliet, Illinois, area.

“I'm kind of shocked,” he said. “It was nice to have prices be lower.”

Dan Stoikes, 37, blamed fate.

“It always goes up when I need gas,” he said.

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