Average Utah gas prices have jumped by 11 cents per gallon in just the past week, surpassing the $3 mark.
The average cost of a gallon of unleaded gasoline on Thursday was $3.03, up from $2.92 last week and $2.80 one month ago, reports travel-services agency AAA, which tracks prices nationally.
Utah motorists, who paid some of the highest gasoline prices nationwide in 2010, had been enjoying the lowest pump prices in the country in recent weeks. But with the latest increases, Utah has slipped to 15th lowest among all states.
The good news for motorists here is that the state's average remains 9 cents below the national average of $3.12 per gallon. But that could change if Utah's prices continue to climb faster than the rest of the country.
AAA spokeswoman Rolayne Fairclough attributes the gas-price increase to the political turmoil in Egypt, which has helped to make investors nervous and pushed up the price of crude oil. Increases in the cost of crude oil often leads to increases in pump prices.
But why Utah's prices have climbed 11 cents in just the last week while the national average is largely unchanged isn't clear.
Unleaded gasoline prices in Utah tend to move in the opposite way of national trends, sometimes in a completely unexplainable fashion. Utah's gas prices Thursday, for example, are much lower than in summer 2008, when Utah's unleaded average hit a record $4.22 in July. But for much of 2010, the state's price topped $3 per gallon, with Utah motorists paying either the highest or among the highest prices anywhere.
Ultimately, Utah's prices were higher than the national average for three-quarters of 2010 and below the national average the rest of the time. Rarely was the price right at the national average.
Although the statewide average on Thursday was $3.03, motorists along the Wasatch Front reported filling up for as little as $2.74 per gallon, according to Saltlakegasprices.com, a gas-price comparison website.
The differences among stations, some even close to one another, can be quite large. One location selling regular unleaded fuel at $2.75 Thursday was near others selling the same grade for up to $2.90. Southern Utahns, however, were undoubtedly paying the highest pump prices in the state, with some St. George stations charging $3.29 per unleaded gallon.
Gas prices on the rise
• Utah average unleaded prices:
Week ago: $2.92
Month ago: $2.80
Year ago: $2.75
• National average unleaded prices:
Week ago: $3.12
Month ago: $3.09
Year ago: $2.64
Source • AAA Utah