PITTSFIELD -- Gasoline prices continue to climb in February, notching another 9-cent increase in Massachusetts in the past week, and an overall jump of 25 cents since the beginning of the month.

A gallon of self-serve regular unleaded in Massachusetts now averages $3.68 per gallon, according to AAA Southern New England's weekly survey of gas prices. Gas prices had jumped 14 cents the prior week.

Massachusetts' price is 10 cents higher than the national average and 12 cents higher than it was at this time last year.

"First, the price of crude oil is still high and refinery issues are continuing to be of concern," said AAA spokeswoman Mary Maguire.

The massive winter storm that hammered New England this weekend was also a contributing factor.

"There could be an impact on supply because of the storm, because we hadn't even recovered fully from the impact of Hurricane Sandy," Maguire said. "Now we've got this tremendous blizzard."

Some gas stations temporarily ran out of gas as a result of the weekend's storm.

"When it's scarcer and hard to find, it boosts the price," Maguire said.

Peter Romano of the Independent Oil Dealers Association of New England said that most oil terminals were supplied with fuel during the storm. Although he did not have specific numbers, Romano said most of the gas stations that ran out of gas during the storm did so because they had lost power.

In Pittsfield, prices for a gallon of regular unleaded ranged between $3.57 and $3.


Advertisement

73on Monday, according to Massachusettsgasprices.com. The range of prices in the latest AAA survey for unleaded regular is 27 cents, from $3.56 per gallon to $3.83. Across Massachusetts, prices ranged from $3.52 per gallon in Kingston to $4.57 per gallon in Nantucket, which is perennially high because it's an island.

Maguire isn't sure when gas prices in Massachusetts will begin to level off.

"It's always hard to forecast," she said. "But as long as there continues to be turmoil in the Middle East, we're going to see this risk premium at work due to the fear that there will be a disruption in supply.

"Normally, we see prices tick up in the spring anyway as people travel more," Maguire said. "It's happened earlier this year than the past few years, part of that is the situation in the Middle East that's driving up the price of crude. With an uptick now, we're hoping to see prices moderate sooner."

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6224.