CHICAGO (CBS) — Once again, an unwelcome distinction for Chicago — we’re now paying the highest gas prices in the country.

According to, the Chicago-area average price for a gallon of regular unleaded has hit $4.51, highest in the nation.

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Patrick DeHaan is a senior petroleum analyst with the company: “A lot of it has to do with the switchover, the progression to summer gasoline. And refineries are going down for maintenance, so things are getting very tight here in this market and when supply is very tight, combined with the switchover, it further puts the squeeze on prices.”

DeHaan says we’re nearly at the all-time high average price for Chicago, $4.52 set last May 11.

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“We’re right there,” he said. “Chicago will be setting the all-time record high, the highest price we’ve ever seen and the concern is it may not even stop at $4.52. Prices traditionally peak in the month of May.”

DeHaan is standing by GasBuddy’s projection from last January: That the average Chicago-area price this year could peak at between $4.60 and $4.95 a gallon.

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