Cindy Hitsman, a clerk at the Admiral located next to Orchard Market in Spring Lake Township, said the reason the Admiral stations saw flocks of motorists was because they hadn’t yet upped their prices to the $3.65 per gallon other stations already charged. Hitsman said she was told to change the price at 6 p.m.
At 3:30 p.m., customers waited about 20 minutes in line to top off their tanks. Three or four cars per lane idled in queue for the pumps.
When asked why she waited in line to get gas, Bonnie Norwood of Spring Lake Township said she is going to Chicago next week and didn't want to chance not getting the lower price.
Gas prices nationwide averaged $3.51 per gallon Thursday, according to GasBuddy.com, which has analysts predicting a decrease in the cost of fuel during the last three months of the year.
Usually, fuel prices drop in September after children return to school and people aren’t vacationing as much. That doesn’t appear to be the case this year.
There are several reasons for the uptick, according to Gas Buddy and AAA analysts. Among them, particularly for our region, are two Midwest refineries undergoing upgrades so they can refine sandy crude oil from Canada.
In Detroit, the Marathon Co. has shut down for more than two months to connect its newer multi-billion-dollar refinery equipment to its older facility. BP is also working to expand its refinery in Indiana, which will also require a brief shutdown later in the year.
The annual switch-over to the winter gasoline blends also creates a short-term problem with partial refinery shutdowns as the change is made.
That’s not even counting recent political unrest — trouble in the Middle East always sparks increases at the pump — or the upcoming hurricane season that could cause volatility in the market.
All of these things are counterbalanced, to some degree, by recent positive news in the crude oil industry, analysts report.
OPEC recently released a report saying that the global market is well supplied with oil, and that U.S. fuel production is expected to grow to 2.5 million barrels per day or more in the next six months.
Historical data and forecasts all call for slipping gas prices in the fourth quarter, despite the recent jump at the pumps.
“While past performance is never an absolute indicator of future price positions, a review of recent history gives us good reason to expect prices to fall between now and Halloween, by between 20 and 25 cents per gallon,” wrote Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst, on his GasBuddy.com blog.
The Associated Press and the MCT news service contributed to this report.