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You can kiss $2 gas goodbye: Here's why low pump prices are creeping higher

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 3/7/2019 Nathan Bomey
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Sub-$2 gasoline is evaporating.

The number of stations selling fuel for less than $2 a gallon is shrinking as spring price spikes take effect.

The national average price of gas has jumped 17 cents in the last month to $2.45, according to AAA.

That figure is likely to increase by another 15 to 25 cents in the coming weeks, says Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at fuel-tracking app GasBuddy.

Could the U.S. come close to an average of $3 a gallon as the summer travel season approaches?

Last year, prices topped out at $2.98 on May 25, according to GasBuddy.

"We’ll probably get close” but fall short, DeHaan says. “We will be stuck in this rut of increasing prices probably for another month or maybe two.”

In recent weeks, national increases have occurred as fuel refineries begin annual maintenance projects typically timed for the spring. As the refineries shift to costlier summer blends of gasoline, prices usually increase.

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That means savings are getting harder to find.

On Feb. 25, more than 1,600 stations nationwide were still charging less than $2, according to GasBuddy. A week later, fewer than 350 were charging $2. And today it’s probably fewer than 200, DeHaan estimated.

“There will probably be some more volatility in the weeks and days ahead,” DeHaan says.

To be sure, prices remain at relatively low levels historically. Last year, prices were 8 cents higher at this time, according to AAA.

And we’re still far below the record high of $4.11 on July 17, 2008.

Among the 48 contiguous states, the highest current average is California at $3.30, according to AAA. The lowest is South Carolina at $2.20.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: You can kiss $2 gas goodbye: Here's why low pump prices are creeping higher

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