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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The pain at the pump got a little more painful this past week as gas prices hit a seasonal high.
The national average price for regular gas increased 2.3 cents to reach $3.744 a gallon, nearly 20 cents higher than a year ago when the price stood at $3.581 a gallon, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The figure is the highest level for this season since at least 1990, according to Bloomberg.
U.S. retail gasoline has climbed for seven weeks, increasing 38.8 cents a gallon since July 2, as crude prices gained more than $12 a barrel and refinery disruptions sent gasoline inventories to the lowest level for this time of year since 2008, the news outlet reported citing EIA data.
"Crude prices are most of it, and gasoline stocks are still really low," David Hackett, the president of Stillwater Associates in Irvine, Calif., an independent fuel consultant, told Bloomberg. "I don't expect any relief in gasoline prices until after Labor Day." The holiday falls on Sept. 3 this year.
But prices may be starting to stabilize. Gasoline at the pump average $3.717 a gallon on Monday, a second straight daily record, Michael Green, spokesman for AAA, told the news outlet. "There is some good news for drivers despite record-high gas prices," Green said. "The national average price of gas has remained flat in recent days as refinery issues have stabilized in the Midwest and West Coast."
In addition, prices on the East Coast should also drop in a few weeks as refiners switch out of summer-grade gasoline production, according to Hackett. "Refiners can't make as much gasoline to the summer grade as they can to fall and winter," he said. "That'll increase supplies in the East and help take the pressure of prices."