TAMPA, Fla. - Gas prices remain at their highest level since September, amid tightened ethanol supplies, geopolitical tension and typical spring factors.
A shortage of ethanol in the southeast could put upward pressure on gas prices. Since gas in most areas typically contains a blend of as much as 10 percent ethanol, product outages are being averted by blending premium gasoline with sub-octane to reach an 87-octane grade material, according to the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS).
"When there is no ethanol blend in the gasoline, you could see the price of gas increase," said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA - The Auto Club Group. "That is because a higher costing product, premium gasoline, is being used to increase the octane level."
Meanwhile, refinery maintenance and continued tension between Russia and Ukraine is putting upward pressure on oil. The threat of a supply disruption could cause prices to spike.
"AAA expects the national average to peak in late March or early April between $3.55 and $3.75 per gallon," said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA - The Auto Club Group. "The increase is based on seasonal refinery maintenance and the approaching switchover to producing summer-blend gasoline that is required by May 1."
Historically, gas prices rose around 20 cents during the month of March, two of the last three years. So far this month, the national average rose 8 cents. Prices are also up 11 cents in Florida, 8 cents in Georgia, and 7 cents in Tennessee. While increases are expected to continue through the month, AAA does not expect prices to reach last year's levels.