Retail gas prices have been jumping again after showing a temporary decline after mid-April. As of Thursday morning, the per-gallon price for regular unleaded gasoline averaged $3.491, compared to $3.449 a day earlier and $3.425 last week.
The national average price was about 6 cents lower Thursday.
The local price was still a nickel-per gallon lower than it had been a month ago and 17 cents lower than the $3.666 of the same period in 2011.
National prices peaked for 2012 at $3.92 in the first week of April.
The record price in Waterloo-Cedar Falls is $4.002 on May 8, 2011.
There are several reasons for the newest spike, including the rising price of crude oil, said Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.com, which tracks fuel-price trends.
Laskoski noted crude oil was trading at around $90 per barrel Thursday, compared to $77 to $78 just a few weeks earlier.
"On June 29, crude oil saw the biggest single-day increase we'd seen in three years," Laskoski said, noting the price jumped about $7.30 a barrel that day.
"Ever since then, we've seen crude oil moving higher," he said.
Several factors are in play, Laskoski said, listing a potential volatile situation in the Middle East first.
"Although it's not exclusively Iran, it's the nervousness about the conflict in Syria, the civil war that could escalate," he said.
U.S. refinery output in the Midwest, has been at 90.8 percent of capacity, compared to a national average output of 92 percent, Laskoski said.
The lone trouble spot in that category is the East Coast, which has current refinery output of about 82 percent. The Rocky Mountain region leads, at 97.5 percent.
In the short term, prices likely will continue to rise until around Labor Day, he said.
"I don't think we're going to see an extraordinary kind of spike like we saw in the springtime, though," he said.
Barring any unforeseen events, like a hurricane or a war breaking out, consumers likely will see some relief at the pump after Labor Day, when the retailers move away from federally mandated "summer blend" fuels to cheaper winter blends, Laskoski said.
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