AAA: Gas price increases likely through March

AAA: Gas price increases likely through March
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The average price of gasoline has increased for 35 days in a row, AAA said on Monday, adding that even higher prices are expected.

The 35-day increase, which totals to an additional 39 cents per gallon of gas, is the longest consecutive streak of rising prices since February 2013, the auto group said. 

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The uptick in prices is attributed to rising crude oil costs and refinery maintenance. 

AAA said the nation's average price of gas is now $2.43 per gallon, a $1.03 less than what the average was one year ago. 

"Paying $2 for gas will seem like a distant memory for most drivers in the coming weeks,” said AAA spokesman Avery Ash. “Gasoline remains much cheaper than in recent years, but drivers may not appreciate that fact given the steep increase in price over the past month.”

In February, drivers paid on average $2.23 per gallon, the lowest February average since 2009. 

AAA noted that gas prices "typically" rise at this time of the year due to seasonal maintenance on refineries, which "can limit fuel production and supplies."  

The auto group warned drivers to expect gas prices to rise by another 20 cents per gallon in March.

"Gas prices likely will rise higher in March as refineries conduct seasonal maintenance,” Ash said. “The good news is that most U.S. drivers should still pay less than $3 per gallon to fill up their cars this year.”

In California, gas prices have increased 95 cents to $3.39 per gallon. The steep increase in California, AAA said, can be attributed to the recent explosion at a refinery near Los Angeles.

"Drivers in California face higher gas prices due to in part to an explosion at the ExxonMobil refinery near Los Angeles, which has limited gasoline production at a time when refinery production already is down because of seasonal maintenance," AAA said in its monthly report.