Victoria Gajeski of Davenport pulled up to the pump Tuesday at Sara Mini Mart on River Drive at Myrtle Street, ready to fill up her Audi A4 Quattro.
Gajeski knew gasoline prices had been rising, but she didn’t realize that the brand she wanted, the Shell premium known as V-Power, had reached $3.85 a gallon.
“I didn’t expect to see that price,” she said, looking at the pump for the cost of the 93 octane.
Her total came to $52.50 for the tank full.
“I live on the outskirts of Davenport, so I go through a tank of gas a week,” Gajeski said. “It wasn’t that long ago the price was much lower, just over $3 a gallon.”
Gajeski voiced what many can be heard mumbling at the pump these days.
Prices in the Iowa and Illinois Quad-Cities have jumped
30-40 cents a gallon for regular unleaded over the past four weeks.
At some Iowa Quad-City stations, the price for regular unleaded had fallen to $2.95 a gallon.
On Tuesday, the average for regular unleaded was $3.41 a gallon in the Iowa Quad-Cities, according to AAA.
Those days are gone for the foreseeable future, and this time it is driven by OPEC, said analyst Tancred Lidderdale of the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Energy.
“The No. 1 reason the price of gasoline has gone up is that the price of oil has gone up this month,” Lidderdale said. “Generally, oil prices are the No. 1 driver of gasoline prices.
“The reason they’ve risen is because Saudi Arabia cut back production,” he added.
Analysts had been expecting OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, to cut production in April.
Instead, Lidderdale said, “they cut production in December.”
Benchmark Brent Crude Oil had been running about $109 per barrel before January, but over the past several weeks, it has jumped to about $116 a barrel. Gas prices rise about 5 cents a gallon for every dollar jump in the price of crude oil.
“When forecasting gasoline prices, there is always that uncertainty in the Middle East and North Africa for which it is hard to account,” Lidderdale said.
Some refineries are down for maintenance.
One such refinery in Sweeny, Texas, owned by Phillips 66 has taken its 247,000 barrel-a-day refinery off line for planned maintenance.
Lidderdale said the higher prices at the pump have altered the behavior of American drivers in recent years.
“We’ve been surprised at how little highway travel has grown over the last several years,” he said. Also, since passenger vehicles have become more fuel efficient, “we’ve seen a large drop in gasoline consumption.”
Lidderdale added that it was not that long ago when $2.99 a gallon was seen as high.