CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - While February is typically a cheaper month for gas prices because fewer people travel, prices at the pump are on the rise.
Over the last year, the price of crude oil remained low because of the pandemic. But AAA Carolinas spokesperson Tiffany Wright says demand has been steadily increasing over the last few months as more and more places reopen and people start traveling again.
Wright says winter storms are also affecting those prices.
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GasBuddy, which tracks and analyzes changes in gas and oil prices, said 11 refineries in Texas and one in Kansas have at least partially shut down because of extreme winter weather. These refineries serve areas around the gulf coast and southeast, where drivers can expect higher gas prices for the next few days.
AAA Carolinas says as refineries go offline or slow down their production and deliveries, prices will stay high because each day that these refineries don’t operate, the country is consuming more gas than it produces.
“I think once they do get back to normal and all refineries are operating, you know, 100%, I think we will see prices tick downward because demand still has been relatively low,” Wright said. “Although we’ve seen an uptick, it’s been relatively low, and I think prices will reflect that. But we’ve got to get through this winter storm, we’ve got to see if refineries have any damage, if they have to assess that damage and then see if we can’t get deliveries back on track and I think that’s going to determine where prices are going to end up.”
Wright says she hopes prices will stabilize before prices go up for the spring and summer travel months.
AAA Carolinas encourages people not to buy gas in panic. These outages are caused by the weather are temporary, but when people try to hoard gas, that can make a shortage worse and further drive up prices.
According to AAA, the average price of gas in South Carolina as of Friday is $2.39 per gallon. That’s 21 cents below the national average of $2.60 per gallon.
The average price per gallon in the Charleston-North Charleston area is $2.46, compared to $2.17 one month ago and $2.19 one year ago.
AAA Carolinas says South Carolina continues to be among the nation’s 10 least expensive markets for gasoline.