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GAS PRICES SPIKE AGAIN
Gas prices spike, pushing local prices up some 17 cents in the past week. This mirrors a nationwide spike.

 Drivers fill up at the Wawa on Butler Road in Stafford County. AAA reports that pump prices around the Fredericksburg area have increased 17 cents in the last week, and some went up again on Monday afternoon.
SUZANNE CARR ROSSI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 2/5/2013

BY SCOTT SHENK

THE FREE LANCE-STAR

That somewhat comfortable start to the new year with flat gas prices went out the window in a flash.

In the past week, prices at the pump have jumped double digits. Locally, the big spike happened over the weekend. And at some local stations, prices went up again on Monday.

According to AAA Mid-Atlantic's latest survey, Fredericksburg-area gas prices averaged $3.39 a gallon for regular. That's 17 cents higher than a week ago and a penny higher than the same time last year.

In Virginia, the price for a gallon of gas climbed more than 13 cents in the past week, pushing the average price to $3.40 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.com.

Even with the spike, Virginia's average gas price is 4.5 cents less a gallon than the same time a year ago.

National gas prices increased to $3.51, a spike of more than 14 cents a gallon in the past week. That put those prices 4.5 cents higher than a year ago.

Analysts say climbing crude oil prices are the primary reason for the spike in gas prices.

"The national average has ticked higher in the last week, as rising oil prices have put upward pressure on gasoline prices," said Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy.com petroleum analyst.

"Unfortunately for angry motorists, there doesn't seem to be much relief in sight, at least for the time being, as retail prices continue to climb in virtually all areas of the country," DeHaan said.

Refinery maintenance and low supplies also contributed to the spike, according to AAA, which pointed out that crude oil prices have climbed 14 percent since December.

"Various factors have contributed to this unseasonal rise in gas prices, perhaps the most obvious being the recent rally in crude oil prices," said Jana L. Tidwell of AAA Mid-Atlantic. "If crude oil continues to rise, gas prices will likely follow suit."

Nevertheless, AAA predicts that national gas prices will rise more slowly than the past two Februaries, when prices at the pump increased 29 cents and 27 cents.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436
Email: sshenk@freelancestar.com