Gas prices surge in Philadelphia region

February 5, 2013 2:56:15 PM PST
Drivers throughout are area are suffering from sticker shock when they fill up at the gas pump.

Prices have surged in the past week.

In Philadelphia, it's now $3.67 for a gallon of regular, a jump of 18 cents in the past week.

Prices have also climbed 18 cents in South Jersey where drivers are now paying $3.52 per gallon.

And, in Delaware, the price of a gallon has soared 21 cents in the last week to $3.62.

This price jump has lots of families pinching pennies as percentage of income that Americans pay for gasoline has reached its highest level in 30 years.

"We're spending 4 percent of our total income on gasoline, even though our cars are more fuel efficient, because the prices have gone up so much," said Jenny Robinson of AAA Mid-Atlantic.

A government report reveals that Americans spent an average of $2,912 on gas last year, and the price continues to rise.

The question is: Why?

As you would expect, the answer is a bit complex, but the primary culprits include rising tensions in the Middle East and large-scale maintenance at refineries out west.

"Refineries are not producing as much gasoline as they usually produce, so the supply of gasoline is below normal for time of year," said Prof. Shawkat Hammoudeh of Drexel University.

As of Tuesday morning, the national average for a gallon of regular is $3.54.

And, Hammoudeh said, it's not over yet.

"We're expecting $4.00 per gallon for gasoline sometime in March."