If you live or drive in all but four states, you may pay more than ever for a late-summer drive.
Drivers in the U.S. paid an average of $3.72 per gallon on Monday.
That’s the highest price ever on that date, according to auto club AAA, a shade above the $3.717 average on Aug. 20, 2008. A year ago, the average was $3.58, and a month ago it was 26 cents lower than Monday’s average.
But if Utah, Montana, Wyoming or Idaho is your home or trip destination in the next few days, you’re catching a bit of break, because gas prices were lower Monday than on the same date in 2011.
In Utah Monday, the average price was $3.53 for a gallon on unleaded regular, 2 cents lower than a year ago and only 7 cents higher than a month ago.
Nationally, more daily records are likely over the next few weeks.
The U.S. average could increase to $3.75 per gallon by Labor Day, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service. By comparison, gas prices stayed below $3.70 in late August and early September in both 2008 and 2011.
Kloza and other analysts expect prices to start dropping after Labor Day, so drivers shouldn’t have to worry about a return to the April high of $3.94 per gallon, barring a hurricane or other unforeseen event.
Nationally, retail gasoline prices have risen nearly 12 percent since July 1 because of higher oil prices, and problems with refineries and pipelines that created temporary supply shortages in some regions.
An increase in the price of ethanol, which is blended into gasoline, also contributed to the rise in pump prices. The Intermountain West has escaped some of those regional pressures, according to AAA.
The pace of the increases has slowed considerably, however. Gas rose 19 cents in the two weeks that ended Wednesday. It’s up just one penny in the five days since. Nationally, gas costs about 26 cents more than a month ago and 14 cents more than a year ago, according to AAA, OPIS and Wright Express.
Across the U.S., prices range from a low of $3.43 per gallon in South Carolina to $4.32 in Hawaii. Arizona, Mississippi and New Mexico also have average prices below $3.50 per gallon, while California and Illinois are up above the $4 mark.
The price at the pump in the U.S. fell more than 60 cents per gallon during the spring as the global economy slowed and turmoil in the Middle East seemed to subside.
But crude oil has risen above $95 a barrel from a low of $78 in late June as Investors have worried about disruption to oil supplies in the Middle East and North Sea. Seasonal factors are also at play. Summer blends of gas cost more, and demand goes up as families go on vacation.
Gas hit an all-time high of $4.11 per gallon on July 17, 2008, ($4.22 on July 18, 2008, in Utah). But a plunge in oil prices knocked it down to $3.69 by the end of August. Though the national average jumped back to $3.85 in mid-September when Hurricane Ike hit the Gulf Coast, it plummeted to $1.62 per gallon by year-end as the global recession took hold.
Gas prices in Utah
Monday • $3.53
Week ago • $3.46
Month ago • $3.46
Year ago • $3.55
Record high • $4.22 (July 18, 2008)
Monday • $3.72
Week ago • $3.70
Month ago • $3.46
Year ago • $3.58
Record high • $4.11 ( July 17, 2008)
Find low-priced gasoline
O Go to UtahGasPrices.com or SaltLakeGasPrices.com