With oil at a six-year low and much of the U.S. enjoying cheaper gas prices this summer, drivers in Chicago and the Midwest are in for some real pain at the pump.
Gasoline prices across the Midwest spiked an average of 20 cents or more per gallon overnight, after the outage at BP's Whiting refinery in Indiana sent prices in the wholesale spot market skyrocketing this week. More of that price shock should filter through to gas stations in states from Ohio and Kentucky to Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Prices are expected to temporarily rise 75 cents to $1 from week-ago levels in Chicago alone, according to Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service. Chicago drivers were paying an average of $3.01 per gallon for unleaded gasoline Thursday morning, compared to the average $2.81 per gallon Wednesday and $2.72 a week ago, according to AAA.
The price jump in the Midwest also helped push the national average for gasoline up by 3 cents overnight Thursday to $2.61 per gallon. But that is still lower than last week's $2.62 per gallon and way below the $3.47 drivers spent for unleaded gasoline at this time last year. Despite a spate of temporary refining issues in the Midwest and elsewhere, drivers there and across the U.S. should see prices below $2 a gallon by the end of the year, analysts said.