Regular unleaded gas expected to exceed $4 gallon soon

Retail prices for regular unleaded gasoline now are expected to exceed $4 a gallon in coming weeks, according to AAA.

On Thursday, the average statewide price for regular unleaded was 12 cents away at $3.88. And the upward forces on prices are dominating, said AAA spokeswoman Jessica Brady.

Average retail prices are up almost 50 cents a gallon in the past month, the swiftest one-month rise since 2005, according to the Oil Price Information Service retail pricing data.

The highest statewide price ever was $4.08 on July 16, 2008.

The overall annual price has trended upward year by year. This year's prices have steadily increased for 31 days in a row, reaching a level not seen since April 22, 2012.

"We're seeing record-breaking prices being paid for gasoline in Florida for this time of year," Brady said. "It is likely we will go above $4 a gallon in coming weeks."

She isn't yet predicting how high prices may go. Usually, prices peak by April and then decline. That is after refineries finish their annual maintenance and switch to refining summer fuel blends.

Last year, prices peaked in April and then went into a downward trend into the summer months before again rising around Labor Day.

Gasoline prices are influenced by more than refinery conditions, Brady said. This year's snow storms in the northeast have been a factor, along with an improving economy and concern about Iran's nuclear program, she said.

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