A fire and explosion at a Toledo refinery threatens to raise the price of gasoline at the pump, AAA warned Thursday afternoon while noting the national average price of gasoline in January was $3.32 per gallon, the second highest average on record for the month.
AAA said the national average price of gasoline increased 13 cents, or 4 percent a gallon, in January. Drivers in the Midwest saw the highest price increases for January as a result of rising crude oil costs in the region and decreased gasoline supplies.
AAA said that late Wednesday an explosion and fire hit PBF Energy's Toledo Refinery and the refinery was closed.
"Depending on the extent of the damage and the length of the shutdown, Midwest gas prices could be impacted," said Cindy Antrican of AAA. "We're still riding the roller coaster, the Midwest and Ohio in particular."
Thursday, the average price for Miami Valley area motorists is $3.54, compared to $3.35 last year.
Antrican said that gas prices are expected to rise steadily as many refineries temporarily close for scheduled turnaround maintenance and as the industry begins the complicated process of switching over to summer blends of gasoline.
The rest of the country doesn't move to the summer standards until late February or March, but the Midwest will see an earlier move to low vapor pressure gasoline this year, when compared with last year.
There is good news though, gas prices increased at a slower pace than in January 2012, when the national average increased 17 cents (5 percent) a gallon. But overall, Antrican said, AAA still expects 2013 prices to trend lower than last year.
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