Gas prices took a big jump this month, as any Iowan could tell you. Tami Foster is a fuel-price analyst with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. She says gas prices in Iowa have gone up an average 25-cents-a-gallon across the state this past month, despite a report from the U.S. Department of Energy showing crude-oil inventories are at record levels.
Foster says at least that’s “a good thing.” But the crude oil isn’t all headed for your corner convenience store, and that’s part of the reason prices remain high.
“Refineries right now are undergoing their typical spring maintenance cycle, and that typically means that even though there’s a lot of crude oil, it’s not being processed into gasoline,” according to Forster.
And there are seasonal and political factors in the mix. “It’s spring break. A lot of people are traveling now,” Foster says. “Also the continued unrest in Nigeria, Iran and Iraq are certainly affecting the market.” Gas prices aren’t at their all-time high right now but they’re well over the two-dollar mark, with no sign of coming down.
Foster says prices are two-forty to two-fifty a gallon right now, and after spring break winds down the prices may drop a bit in April before pump prices start their annual climb in the summer driving season. She says that’s when you may well see them soar to 2-75 a gallon, or even closer to three dollars.
The DNR’s also going to add a new category to its monthly reporting — the high-ethanol fuel blend known as “E-85.” The agency will report the average price of E-85 every month, as well as the total amount of that fuel that’s sold. This past month saw a new record in Iowa, with more than 85-thousand gallons of E85 sold.