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042418-blm-loc-1gasprices

Motorists fuel up Monday at Huck's on West Oakland Avenue in Bloomington, which displayed a price of $2.539 for gas.

BLOOMINGTON — Like many Central Illinois drivers, Misty Noecker of Bloomington has noticed the slow increase in gas prices over the past few weeks.

“I try not to think about the price much, because you need gas to live your life,”  she said Monday while filling her tank at Thornton's, 908 N. Main St., Bloomington. “But I enjoy life better when gasoline is around $2 per gallon instead of $3 per gallon.”

“And you hear stories about the state wanting to raise gasoline taxes,” she added. “I would think long and hard about before doing that if I were in charge.”

Average retail gasoline prices in Illinois have risen 2.5 cents per gallon in the past week to $2.75 per gallon, according to the gasoline price website, GasBuddy.com. The average price in Illinois is 13.7 cents higher than a month ago and 23.5 cents higher than the same time a year ago.

The average price in Bloomington-Normal on Monday was $2.60 per gallon for regular unleadedgasoline, according to GasBuddy.com. That is 2 cents higher than Sunday, 10 cents higher than a month ago and 25 cents higher than last year on the same date.

In Decatur, the average price was $2.74 per gallon — 3 cents higher than Sunday, 32 cents higher than last month and 55 cents higher than a year ago. The highest recorded average in Decatur was $4.19 in June 2013. The lowest recorded average since 2008 was $1.32 in February 2016.

Illinois motorists aren’t the only ones paying more at the pump. In fact, all but one of the nation’s 50 states saw an increase in gas prices last week, said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.

“Government data (showed) a new record for gasoline demand was breached last week, and we're not even into the summer driving season yet,” he said.

Gas prices are at their highest point in nearly three years, according to AAA.

“Expensive crude oil prices, unrest in the Middle East, strong domestic demand, record production rates and global oil supply surplus have created the perfect storm to drive spring gas prices to new heights,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokeswoman. “Consumers can expect gas prices to increase another 5 to 10 cents this season.”

The highest recorded average in the Twin Cities was in July 2008, when gas was $4.19 per gallon. The lowest recorded average since 2008 was $1.39 in February 2016.

Rebecca Moore of Clinton said the gas prices have caused her family to make some decisions.

“I drive 600-plus miles a week and it hurts,” she said. “I get reimbursed for mileage (40 center per mile) but we still had to trade vehicles for better gas mileage.”

Bill Newman of Normal, who was getting gas at Huck's, 102 W. Oakland Ave., Bloomington, said he is tired of the up and down prices.

“Those rich guys don’t like it when gas hangs around $2 per gallon so they manipulate it so we have to pay more,” he said. “When in doubt, blame it on the rich.”

DeHaan says he wouldn’t be surprised to see an uneven market in the coming weeks.

With President Trump's tweet last week targeting the price of oil, there may be additional scrutiny on oil prices in the coming weeks that bears monitoring,” he said. “OPEC has been remarkably successful in better aligning supply to demand, draining the crude oil glut, and pushing oil prices to their highest since 2014.

While refinery maintenance and the change to summer gasoline are largely complete, oil prices remain one of the largest active drivers of gas prices now and likely in the weeks ahead, said DeHaan, adding all signs point to some additional upward movement before prices peak and perhaps drop slightly around Memorial Day into the month of June.

Follow Kevin Barlow on Twitter: @pg_barlow

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Agriculture Reporter

Agriculture reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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