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Refinery problems pump up gas prices

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

Gasoline prices across Colorado are spiking just before one of the biggest travel holidays of the year. Midwest refinery mishaps are being blamed.

By Jordyn Dahl Herald staff writer

Oil-refinery woes in the Midwest are hitting Colorado, causing gas prices to jump in the last week, according to industry experts.

Colorado has seen about a 14 cent increase in gasoline prices because of four oil refineries that saw a reduction in output, said Gregg Laskoski, a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, a website that monitors gas prices nationwide.

A refinery in Indiana and another in Illinois first experienced problems. Normally, when two see a reduction, the area depends on other refineries to help fill the void, but two refineries in Oklahoma and Kansas had problems at the same time, Laskoski said, which caused the surge in prices.

“Colorado was impacted directly by this tight supply that is only now starting to see some correction,” Laskoski said.

The average gas price in Colorado was $3.85 and the national average was $3.66 on Wednesday, according to AAA.

The lowest gas price Wednesday in Durango was $3.77, according to GasBuddy.com.

The high prices come just before one of the biggest travel holidays of the year. About 34.8 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during Memorial Day weekend, a 0.9 percent decrease compared with last year, according to a AAA news release.

“AAA is forecasting Memorial Day travel to be slightly lower this year due to an up-and-down economy, the impact of the end of the payroll tax holiday on working families and a 30-year low in the percentage of working-age people in the workforce,” AAA President and CEO Robert Darbelnet said in the release.

Despite the waning economy, high gasoline prices won’t affect the plans of about 62 percent of travelers, according to a AAA survey.

Laskoski said it’s hard to predict what gas prices will be like this summer, but experts are closely watching the four refineries.

“That will dictate the pace at which things are going to return to normal,” he said.

jdahl@durangoherald.com

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