Gas prices rise ahead of holiday weekend

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- If you filled up during the Safer at Home order, you might have seen near record lows at many gas stations.

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Now, some motorist are wondering why gas prices have spiked after a huge decline recently. According to gasbuddy.com, a website that tracks gas prices, the average cost for a gallon of gas is a $1.99 in Eau Claire County. While that doesn't sound bad, the average prices were almost 15 cents lower on Thursday, which could be frustrating for people who decided to wait until the weekend to fill up. According to GasBuddy head petroleum analyst, Patrick DeHaan, the reason for the sudden rise, is supply and demand

“Demand went from 9.5 million barrels per day in February, we'll call it 9 million barrels and it fell nearly in half,” DeHaan says. “We've never seen such a drastic, quick drop in gasoline demand. Not even during the recession in 2008-2009, did it come close to matching how quickly demand fell this time around.”

With Americans at home and traveling less, the price of crude oil plummeted, bottoming out at negative $37 a barrel, according to DeHaan.

“Now that Americans are back on the road and demand for gas is picking up, that means demand for oil is picking up as well,” DeHaan says. “Oil prices have bounced off that low and now are about $33 a barrel, the highest level in several months. “

Gas prices are up 67 cents compared to last month. But compared to this time last year, they are down nearly 93 cents.

“A year ago, Wisconsinites were paying about $2.80 a gallon.” DeHaan says. “We should see gas prices remain far below last year's levels for a good portion of the summer.”

With Memorial Day weekend around the corner, some Wisconsinites are filling up their tanks without worrying about the spike.

We're doing some grocery shopping and getting ready for the weekend,” says James Drehmel of Cadot. “Right now, it is not affecting me.”

“This is my wife's car, which we do the search around and find a place,” says Marvin Penick of Stanley. "I have a car that I use for a paper route, so I buy that when I have to no matter where I am."

While some gas stations are at or below the Eau Claire County average, Woodman's in Altoona is twenty cents cheaper, at $1.79 a gallon. As more people get back on the road, expect the price to continue to rise. However, DeHaan says he does not expect record highs any time soon.

“We will likely see prices slowly continue to rise over the course of the summer as demand continues to go up, but I do not believe we will see prices anywhere close to $3 this summer,” he says.