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Gas prices jump 30 cents in last 3 weeks

It hasn’t been hard to miss over the past couple of weeks if you’ve been driving around town, the price of gasoline is steadily rising in town.

The price of gas has jumped from a lowest advertised price of $1.49 (regular unleaded, using cash) on Feb. 24 per gallon of gasoline to $1.79 per gallon on Tuesday morning.

A perfect storm of reasons is responsible for the 20-percent price hike, according to Gregg Glaskoski of GasBuddy.com, which is made of a group of local websites which offers an online method for website visitors to post and view recent retail gasoline prices.

“It’s a combination of things. Gas is being switched from winter fuel to summer fuel, which happens around this time every year and the price of a barrel of oil has jumped too,” Glaskoski said.

The price of a barrel of gas has risen from $26 per barrel two weeks ago, to around $37 to $38 this week, according to Glaskoski.

The difference between winter-blend fuel and summer-blend fuel is winter-blend fuel has a higher Reid Vapor Pressure because the fuel has be able to evaporate at low temperatures for the engine to operate properly, especially when the engine is cold, according to AAA. If the RVP is too low on a cold day, the vehicle will have problems starting and once started, will run rough.

Summer-blend gasoline has a lower RVP to prevent excessive evaporation when outside temperatures rise, according to AAA. Reducing the evaporation of summer gas lowers emissions that can contribute to unhealthy ozone and smog levels. A lower RVP also helps prevent drivability problems such as vapor lock on hot days, which occurs especially in older vehicles.

Although the price is up as of late, it’s well below what area residents were paying last year at this time to fuel their vehicles. The cheapest price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Pahrump was $2.38 at this time in March 2015, making this year’s price 25 percent cheaper than it was at this time last year.

Statewide trends look similar to what’s happening locally, as the average price of gas in Nevada has risen from $2.04 last week to $2.18 this week.

Though prices have risen dramatically as of late, compared to the same time last year, Nevada is far cheaper for gas this year, as March 1, 2015 had an average of $2.86 per gallon of gas, while this year saw the price at $2.07 to begin this month.

Nationally, the average price of regular unleaded gas is sitting at $1.93 per gallon, which is a 20-percent decrease over last year at this time’s national average price of $2.42 per gallon.

Although the rate of how the gas has risen in price hikes will slow down, prices are expected to keep going up slowly for the next two months.

“I expect it (gas price) to continue to rise through April and May,” he said.

Another reason that could be tied to the rise is maintenance on oil refineries, according to Glaskoski.

“Some of the refineries are 100 years old and process multiple petroleum products,” he said. “Most people don’t realize what it takes to maintain these plants.”

Contact reporter Mick Akers at makers@pvtimes.com. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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