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Change of seasons behind higher prices at the pump
Syrian conflict could contribute to future hikes
gas prices

The average price of retail gasoline has risen 6.4 cents nationally since last week, with prices in Stanislaus County increasing by nearly three cents during the same time frame. Increased oil prices and a U.S. missile strike on a Syrian air base have contributed to the increase, and experts expect prices to continue climbing.

Motorists in 48 states saw gasoline prices increase in the last week, while the national average has spiked to $2.40 per gallon. In California, the average gasoline price is well above the national average at $2.996, steadily climbing from last week’s $2.979 average.

“With all but two states seeing average gasoline prices rise over the last week, the jump at the pump has continued,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for “Over half of the nation's 50 states saw prices rise by more than a nickel in the last week while five saw a jump of double digits.”

Average gas prices in Stanislaus County were $2.809 Tuesday, up 2.9 cents from last week’s average of $2.777 and 20 cents higher than the cost of gas in April 2016, which was $2.601. In Turlock, the city’s average gasoline price sits at $2.779 – a two-cent increase from last month’s price. The city’s most expensive gas costs $3.19 per gallon at Shell and Chevron stations, while Costco and Arco offer the most affordable prices at $2.55 and $2.57, respectively.

According to DeHaan, the continued increases are completely seasonal in nature. Many areas are nearing completion of the transition to summer gasoline, and with it comes a complex list of various summer blends of gasoline that cause the price at the pump to be more expensive every spring. Summer gasoline is a more expensive fuel that burns cleaner, as required by EPA.

In addition, the country’s recent missile attack on Syria has caused more “heat” between some of the world’s largest oil producers, said DeHaan, causing concern in oil markets and contributing to higher prices. Following the launch of 50 Tomahawk missiles from U.S. warships in the Mediterranean Sea, oil rose by a dollar per barrel to $52.70 and as of Tuesday was $52.90 per barrel.

“As we’ve seen in the past, oil prices hate turmoil. Tonight’s surge in prices comes as questions remain about military action in Syria moving future,” said DeHaan. “Geopolitical tensions have surged between some of the world’s largest oil producers, and the market, with concern abounding, will likely send oil prices higher.”

DeHaan added that it is too early to know how severe or how long the impact to oil prices may be, and that while there is not yet an imminent major impact to North American gasoline prices, the situation could rapidly change.