Great Lakes gas prices buoyed by twin oil glitch

In the Great Lakes, current gasoline prices have increased further as oil plant and pipeline glitches hit the area. The twin crises caused gas prices to soar by 35 cents a gallon in just a week’s time. Meanwhile, residents of nearby states, like Michigan, are paying as much as $3.95 for a gallon of unleaded gas as prices went up by 34 cents. Indiana and Illinois also experienced a jump in gas prices of an average of 33 cents per gallon. In the case of Wisconsin, the increase was 26 cents.

On a national level, unleaded gas went up by merely 8 cents last week and was selling at $3.56 a gallon.

AAA Wisconsin’s Pam Moen observed that, of late, states in the Midwest have been more affected by gas price hikes.

Last month’s break in Enbridge Energy Partners’ oil pipeline resulted in a wastage of more than 50,000 gallons of crude spilled onto a nearby open field.

Also, portions of an oil plant in Whiting, Indiana as well as others in Lemont and Wood River, Illinois were shut down due to equipment issues.

These twin occurrences have narrowed oil supplies and consequently pushed up gas prices today at the Great Lakes area.

The Enbridge accident is not the first in the area. Two years ago, the firm’s pipeline in Marshall, Michigan broke and spewed more than 800,000 gallons of crude. The firm is now prohibited by state officials to revive its Wisconsin pipeline. It may only do so once it presents an acceptable and safe re-start scheme.

Trends in gas prices tend to move upwards during the summer season as gas consumption increases and oil plants turn to the more costly but cleaner-burning summer fuel blends. Also, crude oil prices went up by roughly $15 a barrel in the past weeks as favorable forecasts about the economy and employment situation surfaced. This triggered a surge in wholesale prices and, eventually, retail prices also moved up. As a result, motorists should take the cue that prices are and will be continue to be unstable in the short-term.

Consumers had varying reactions. Some residents in Central Lake and Holt, Michigan were annoyed while others remained indifferent.

Mike Biehl, a professor at the University of Illinois expressed doubts regarding the real reason behind the price surge. He commented that gas prices may be pushed down if consumers will collectively put pressure on it. He said that motorists may resort to cutting back on gas consumption and view it as an option.

On the other hand, Moen urged motorists to prepare for gas price hikes in the coming days as pump prices will be pulled up by the 20-cent jump in wholesale gas prices this week. Nevertheless, pump prices will eventually take on a more stable ride, she said.