Gas prices in Mass. shoot up 14 cents a gallon

Gasoline prices in Massachusetts increased by 14 cents this week due to the recent increase in the price of crude oil, and many drivers said they are not surprised.

“AAA’s Feb. 4 survey of prices in the Commonwealth found self-serve, regular, unleaded gasoline averaging $3.599 per gallon, 14 cents higher than a week ago. Prices locally are up 14 cents over the past month, but haven’t increased as quickly as they did this time last year,” stated an American Automobile Association Southern New England press release Monday.

Daniele Paserman, professor of economics at Boston University, said gas prices depend on the price of crude oil, but the increase is not unusual.

“Gas prices at the pump depend mostly on the price of crude oil, which in turn depends on the forces of demand and supply,” Paserman said. “It is not that uncommon to see a weekly swing in gas prices of 14 cents or more. It happens about 10 percent of the time, in either direction.”

He said the cold weather also might have pushed prices up.

“It also likely has to do with the relatively cold weather experienced in the last two weeks. This increases the demand for heating and pushes gas prices up,” Paserman said.

AAA Southern New England reported that the current price of gasoline is seven cents above the national average, which is $3.52. A year ago, average gasoline prices in Massachusetts were $3.49, according to the AAA press release.

Randall Ellis, professor of economics at BU, said the influx in prices is how the normal market works.

“From month to month it is normal to have fluctuations based on weather, holidays, driving demand, and refined oil deliveries,” Ellis said. “I suspect that it is just these normal forces. Actually as we come out of a recession, and more people get jobs and buy more cars, it is the norm that gasoline consumption will increase and prices will tend to increase. This does not seem like an unusual increase.”

Paserman said as the United States comes out of the recession, it is normal for gas prices to increase.

“If anything, being out of the recession should raise gas prices,” he said. “More economic activity means more demand for electricity by firms and consumers.”

Paserman said although the local economy is somewhat connected to the jump in oil prices, crude oil ability dictates price.

A number of local drivers said they were not surprised by the sudden increase of gas prices.

“It’s [the price of gas] up, it’s down, it’s all over the place,” said Matt Bodnar, 41, a resident of Brookline. “I’m not happy the price went up, but I am in no way surprised.”

William Clark, a 64-year-old resident of Cambridge, said he remembers when gas was cheaper.

“I remember when gas was 75 cents a gallon,” Clark said. “This [new rise] is just ridiculous.”

Kaylee Peters, 34,of Allston, said she was expecting the increase in gasoline prices.

“Well, prices went down for a while which was nice,” she said, “but I always figured they would just go right back up again.”

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