Gasoline prices are forecast to stay relatively high during the summer driving season ahead as Iowans join millions of motorists in taking road trips to destinations nationwide. Nick Jarmusz, at AAA, predicts gas prices nationwide will be averaging between $3.55 and $3.70 a gallon, while in Iowa, they’re now averaging around $3.48.
“It’s always hard to nail down an exact reason why gas prices are doing what they’re doing because there’s so many factors that go into determining the final price at the pump,” Jarmusz says. “What we do know for sure is that demand is up and that’s a seasonal, cyclical thing, this spring in particular because of the harsh winter we had.” Prices have climbed several cents a gallon in recent days, but Jarmusz says the reasons are unclear.
What is clear, he says, is that demand is outpacing supply. “We aren’t aware of any specific outages or shutdowns at any refineries in the Midwest but that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t happening,” Jarmusz says. “There could be a maintenance issue that we just haven’t heard about that is constricting some supply a little bit.”
Jarmusz says it’s a complex system with many factors involved in getting the fuel to the pumps and available for the consumers, including refinery issues, supply and demand, pipeline maintenance and weather. “Disruptions in any one of those moving parts can send prices up pretty quickly,” Jarmusz says. “It’s not always easy to discern which one of those parts has shifted or caused a problem in a short amount of time.”
Iowa’s most expensive gas is selling in Des Moines, where the average price is $3.55. The cheapest gas in the state is in Davenport, where the average price is 20-cents lower at $3.35.