This week’s report on the jump in retail gasoline prices doesn’t promise any breaks, with prices at the pump set to rise steadily through the spring and summer. Iowa Department of Natural Resources fuel-price analyst David Downing says the news is better for buyers of home heating fuel.Heating oil prices are down from last year though the recent cold snap has pushed them up. He says propane prices are a bit higher than they “should be” because though inventory’s up 70-percent over last year, cheaper fuel is stuck in the pipeline. Homeowners are paying about 85-cents a gallon for propane, the same for number-two heating oil. Reserves of crude oil are at half or less what they were a year ago, and Downing says even one regional refinery out of service has a big impact, too.The B-P refinery in Whiting, Indiana, will be down for maintenance five weeks or more, and several others hinting they may close a while are problems for the Midwest area. Downing says we got a break on both prices and supply with the mild winter, but this year’s popular low-mileage vehicles have forecasters looking for more demand than supply this summer, which will push us toward record gas prices again.
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