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    Gas Prices Take Biggest Leap Yet in 2012

    Drought plus refinery and pipeline problems push average prices to $3.69.

    NEW YORK -- After enjoying months of decreasing gas prices, motorists are beginning to feel the pain at the pump again as prices jumped 18 cents over the past two weeks. It's the biggest jump seen so far this year.

    According to the Lundberg Survey, the average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.69 nationwide. That equals approximately 8 cents more than this time last year, CBS New York reported. However, the cost is still 28 cents below April when many feared that prices would hit the $5-per-gallon mark.

    In the past several weeks there was a lot of talk surrounding gas prices, with some analysts suggesting that we could see the average price per gallon dip to $3 this fall, as CSNews Online previously reported. However, several factors are now in play, pushing prices higher instead of lower. Specifically, the U.S. corn crop is struggling with a drought which in turn is driving corn-based ethanol prices up and companies have experienced refinery and pipeline problems around the country. Most notably, Chevron's refinery in Richmond, Calif. was engulfed by fire on Aug. 6. Crude oil prices have also been inching up.

    "While these situations are temporary in nature, it goes to show this nation's dependence on domestic refineries," GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan said in a statement.

    But DeHaan said there is some light at the end of the tunnel for drivers. "Driving season will be over in less than a month and soon thereafter the [Environmental Protection Agency] also relaxes gasoline mandates, meaning cheaper winter fuel," he said.

    However, DeHaan is reporting on his blog this morning at Chevron's Richmond refinery could be down for months.

     

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