Most of that increase has come in just the past few months.By John Shumway

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — If you have filled up your gas tank lately, you have felt the sting of rising gas prices. The price of gas for the cheap stuff is now over three dollars a gallon in the Pittsburgh area which is about 45 cents per gallon more than a year ago when the pandemic began. Most of that increase has come in just the past few months.

Patrick DeHaan, Senior Oil Analyst for GasBuddy.com says the issue is with COVID-19 numbers dropping and vaccinations spreading quickly, we are starting to get out and go again.

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“Gasoline demand is at its highest level since the pandemic started. On the supply side, supply has not really recovered at all in the last few months as demand has gone up. OPEC last week decided to extend production cuts from last year. ”

DeHaan says the issue started a year ago when we all hunkered down. “Refineries, oil companies, greatly scaled back to respond to the huge decline in demand when the pandemic hit gasoline demand. At one point, demand was down 60% last April that caused refineries to slow down processing. The demand has been increasing since November but the supply chain has not caught up.”

So is this a premature start to the usual climb in gas prices rolling towards summer? “It certainly could be if we continue to see this imbalance grow that is if supply continues to lag behind the growth and demand, then yes,”

That’s not good news when our gas tax infused price is already at $3.05 in the local area.

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DeHaan says, “For Pittsburgh this summer. Well, as you mentioned, it’s already 305 a gallon, we could see prices go up another 25 cents a gallon maybe even more than that, if we don’t quickly see crude oil production increase.”

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He says right now, always filling up at the same gas station may be costing you money, when cheaper gas is just a few miles away. “That’s why it’s important for motorists to shop around to avoid those stations that have higher costs or have higher prices and save some money by filling up at lower cost,” says DeHaan.

And with the price of gas going up, it seems like daily, here is something to keep in mind. DeHaan says prices tend to be lower on Monday and Tuesday with prices rising towards the weekend. And time of day makes a difference too. “Right now, with prices kind of in an upward trend, if you wait till you come home you may find that prices have gone up since the early morning hours. If it’s me, I would probably fill up earlier in the morning.”

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That’s because gas stations get their fresh shipments of fuel during the day and will raise their prices to cover the increased cost of what they have just received.