By the Fourth of July, drivers usually see the highest gas prices of summer in the rear-view mirror.
That may not be the case this year, even though the national average is down about 14 cents from the near $3 a gallon drivers paid in late May. Consumers are paying the highest Fourth of July gasoline prices in four years.
The uncertainty surrounding U.S. efforts to sanction Iranian oil, as well as unexpected outages in other oil-producing countries, has driven West Texas Intermediate crude futures to fresh 3½-year highs. Earlier Tuesday, it traded briefly above $75 per barrel, and futures for Brent, the international bench mark, rose above $78 per barrel.
“There are things going wrong in crude, and there are things that could go wrong in refining,” said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at Oil Price Information Service. Kloza said the refining system is vulnerable to power outages and the threat of summer hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.