The average price of gasoline across South Central Ohio is 20 cents higher this week at $2.661 per gallon, according to AAA East Central’s gas price report.

The average price of unleaded, self-serve gasoline in Jackson was listed at $2.682 per gallon as of the Monday, Feb. 22 report. The lowest price per gallon in the area was Portsmouth at $2.637, while the highest was Athens at $2.699.

According to AAA trend analysis, motorists are filling up to some of the most expensive gas prices seen in more than a year. On the week, 66 percent of state averages spiked by double digits (10 to 22 cents), driving the national average up by 13 cents to $2.63. That is the most expensive national average since October 2019. 

The two major factors at play are rising crude oil prices and the forced shutdown of Gulf Coast and some Mid-West refineries due to last week’s winter weather.

While domestic gasoline stocks are at a relatively healthy level, the shutdowns have tightened supply nationwide. Close to 40 percent of U.S. crude production is offline because of the refinery closures. Two-dozen impacted refiners are expected to restart operations this week, if they haven’t already, which means that regular gasoline deliveries will resume, and impacted stations will be refueled. While prices will likely remain volatile until crude production is back to normal levels, large spikes at the pump are likely to subside.

Crude oil prices were hovering around $60 on Monday, Feb. 22 (West Texas Intermediate), which is about $12 to $13 more expensive than the beginning of the year. Oil prices took a step back last week amid market concern that demand may not rebound as previously expected, but then pushed higher due to supply and delivery impacts from the winter storm. Prices were also bolstered by the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest weekly report revealing total domestic crude inventories dropped by 7.3 million barrels, bringing the supply level to 461.8 million barrels.

The EIA’s latest demand measurement of 8.4 million barrels a day is the highest reported since early November of last year. However, AAA expects that number to be lower in this Wednesday’s report as last week’s winter storm took motorists off the road.

Motorists can find current gas prices nationwide, statewide and countywide at GasPrices.AAA.com.