“It’s happening all over the state,” AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins told The Beacon, referring to recently rising retail gasoline prices.
Drivers in West Volusia this week have seen huge increases in prices, sometimes over the space of a week or less.
In an extreme example, the posted price at one chain store in Orange City was $2.57 during the morning of Monday, March 25, only to rise to $2.75 in the afternoon.
Similar seemingly sudden increases were noted in other West Volusia cities.
According to the fuel-price tracking site GasBuddy, the average price across the Orlando metropolitan area rose from $2.57 to $2.76 between Wednesday, March 20, and Wednesday, March 27.
There is a gas war, and gas is winning. The situation is not unique to Florida.
“It’s happening all over the country,” Jenkins added.
The high prices — which may climb higher still — are the result of what may be described as a perfect storm, the convergence of several factors that will cost consumers more in the weeks and months ahead.
“Mainly just tightening supplies. Refineries are doing their seasonal maintenance. When they are offline, that means a shortage of fuel,” Jenkins explained.
There is something else this year that is not seasonal.
“You’ve got that well-publicized fire in Deer Park [near Galveston, Texas]. It’s close to a shipping channel, and there’s a problem getting out of that area,” he continued. “There are a lot of refineries in that area, and there are several ships [tankers] unable to get out.”
Besides the tightening supplies, there is a higher demand for gasoline.
“People are traveling more. People are coming to Florida,” Jenkins added, noting Spring Break and the pent-up desires for a vacation in a warm-weather location.
He noted the $2.75 price at many area stations is “in line with gas prices last year,” and the prices may remain at the current levels at least through the Memorial Day weekend.
On that holiday weekend last year, Jenkins said, the average peak price for unleaded gasoline in Florida was $2.92 per gallon.
“Rising prices are pretty common in the spring. No reason to panic,” Jenkins said.
Drivers may see relief at the pump this fall, Jenkins added — after the summer-vacation season is over.