Gas Prices Hit Six-Year Seasonal High

National average up 11 cents per gallon vs. year ago, AAA reports

Gas prices AAA (CSP Daily News / Conveniecne Stores / Gas Stations)

WASHINGTON -- The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has hit the highest price for early summer in six years, AAA has reported.

Almost one month into the 2014 summer driving season, the national average has hit $3.68 per gallon. AAA noted that the average has bumped up for the past 12 consecutive days by a total of 4 cents per gallon (CPG), approaching 2014's current retail price peak of $3.70 per gallon, hit in late April. The current national average represents a 2-CPG increase from a week ago, 3 CPG greater than a month ago and 11 CPG vs. a year ago.

The drivers' advocacy association cited a spike in global oil prices for the U.S. gas price increase; crude prices have risen because of concerns about violence spreading in Iraq toward its southern regions, where most of its oil production takes place. Iraq is the second-largest producer among members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Previously, before the crisis in Iraq flared up, AAA had projected that the national gas price average would actually drop 10 to 15 CPG for the month of June. "This means that even though the national average has only increased a few cents per gallon since the Iraq violence intensified, drivers are likely to pay substantially higher gas prices than they would have otherwise," AAA's Michael Green said.

Three states have seen gas prices of more than $4 per gallon for over a month: Hawaii (current state average is $4.34 per gallon), California ($4.15 average) and Alaska ($4.10 average). Meanwhile, AAA reported that prices have risen in 43 states and the District of Columbia vs. the previous week, with a 5-CPG or greater increase in 18 of them. Some states, mainly in the Midwest, have actually seen a drop in gas prices of 1 CPG or more, including Indiana (-14 CPG), Ohio (-13 CPG), Michigan (-10 CPG), Illinois (-4 CPG) and Kentucky (-3 CPG).

Compared to a year ago, 41 states and Washington, D.C., are experiencing higher average gas prices, with 33 and D.C. paying 10 CPG or more, said AAA. In the eight states with lower prices year over year, North Dakota and Utah were the only ones with double-digit decreases, or -13 CPG and -12 CPG, respectively.