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UPDATED 03/19/12 4:15 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — An expert says just as the Chicago-area’s shattering weather records, we could soon set less pleasant records – the highest gas prices.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, Patrick DeHaan, a senior analyst with GasBuddy.com in Chicago, says with an average of $4.37 a gallon, the Chicago-area now has the fifth highest gas prices, behind only three California cities and Honolulu.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports
DeHaan says Chicago area prices got off to a slower start this winter because of an oversupply of the winter blend.
“Think of it as kind of a clearance sale of gasoline,” DeHaan said. You have an old product that we need to purge the market of this gasoline. So how do refineries do that? They start selling it at discounts, and all of a sudden, the merchandise is gone. The clearance sale is over and you have more expensive merchandise hitting the shelves and that’s exactly what we’re seeing.”
Now that the more expensive summer blends are kicking in, the price hike in the Chicago area is accelerating. AAA says prices will continue climbing through mid-May, reports CBS 2′s Kris Habermehl.
DeHaan expects by the time the price is expected to peak, it will reach just under $5 per gallon, an all-time high, eclipsing the $4.55 average from last year.
The good news: It probably won’t get much worse.
DeHaan doubts gas will hit the $5-per-gallon mark because it represents a “psychological tipping point” for consumers. He thinks gas station owners will do whatever it takes to avoid it.
“They would take less money rather than bring that sign out,” he says.
Presently, there are no gas prices under $4 to be found anywhere in the Chicago area. ChicagoGasPrices.com reported the cheapest price was at a 7-Eleven at 1101 W. Laraway Rd. in New Lenox, where the price was $4.05 per gallon.
The highest price was just 22 cents shy of $5 per gallon. At the Shell station at 130 W. North Ave. at the intersection with LaSalle Boulevard, the price was $4.78.