While northern Iowa may soon be buried in snow, the winter driving season has been over for more than a month and gasoline prices statewide are on the rise as more of us take longer trips.

Rose White, spokeswoman for AAA-Iowa, says when the demand increases, so does the pump price. “We can expect to pay about $2.73 across the state of Iowa,” White says. “Just during the last month, that’s up about 15-cents a gallon. If you look at the numerous communities across the state, on any day of the week, you can expect to see price variances upwards of 70-cents a gallon.”

Gas stations in Iowa’s larger cities often charge significantly less for fuel than rural locations, though it’s not a big revelation to residents who live in the country. “We need to keep in mind that these outlets meet a very critical transportation need,” White says. “Due to the low sales volume and higher overhead costs such as additional costs for fuel delivery, we just need to expect to pay more at some of these outlets.”

Some oil producers in the Middle East are vowing to cut back on production this spring and it’s pushing up the price of crude oil.  “Right now, crude is trading above $65 a barrel and just prior to the Christmas holiday, it was at $42 a barrel,” White says. “That big increase of $23 a barrel is certainly a big factor in why we’re paying more at the pump.”

Of Iowa’s main metro areas, Ames has the most expensive gas in the state at $2.82 while it’s cheapest in Sioux City at $2.66. The statewide average of $2.73 is 11-cents below the national average.

(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)