GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Gas prices in West Michigan have jumped over the last week and a petroleum analyst at GasBuddy said they won’t drop anytime soon.
“We’re back over the average of $4 a gallon in West Michigan. The average now (as of Monday afternoon) is about $4.14 a gallon. That’s up from about $3.98 a week ago, and unfortunately, I don’t think the news is going to get much better,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said.
De Haan said that in the next day or two, he expects prices to jump even higher, reaching between $4.29 and $4.39 a gallon.
Several factors are contributing to this — and none of them are Hurricane Ian.
“All of this (is) happening because of refinery issues that continue to dog the Great Lakes region,” he said.
In August, BP’s refinery in Whiting, Indiana, experienced an electrical fire that shut down the refinery. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order in response that lifted the caps and limits on the hours that motor carriers and drivers can drive if they are carrying gas and diesel. That was suspended on Sept. 15 when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s summer gasoline requirement ended.
Two weeks ago, a BP refinery outside of Toledo, Ohio, caught fire, killing two workers.
“That refinery is completely shut down and could be shut down for the end of the year,” De Haan said, adding that this could keep our prices higher than other regions.
Since there are refineries across the country, De Haan said that other regions might step up to the plate to help fill in the shortage — but it could take up to a week for the gasoline to reach the Great Lakes region.
In addition to the refinery impacts, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is expected to announce it is decreasing its oil production up to a million barrels a day, De Haan said.
“We’ve seen oil prices jumping about $4 a barrel today on the likelihood that and the perception that OPEC will move forward with the cut,” he said.
Even with multiple factors increasing gas prices, De Haan said he doesn’t expect gas prices to reach $5 a gallon in West Michigan unless there are a “major hurricane or refinery issues at several refineries.” Plus, we are using winter gasoline, which is naturally cheaper.
“(This) makes it a little bit easier to overcome these refinery issues,” De Haan.