A gallon of gas in the greater Tampa Bay area is 8 cents more expensive than it was a month ago, and at least part of the blame can land at the feet of Vladimir Putin.
Auto club group AAA says gas prices in the state are at their highest level since last September — $3.56 in Florida, and $3.49 locally — because of shorter supplies of ethanol and continued tension in Europe between Russia and the Ukraine.
“When there is no ethanol blend in the gasoline, you could see the price of gas increase,” said Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman, in a release. “That is because a higher costing product, premium gasoline, is being used to increase the octane level.”
Gas prices in most areas of Florida can contain as much as 10 percent ethanol, which helps keep prices down but octane levels where they need to be. When ethanol is in short supply, petroleum companies instead have to use more expensive gasoline to make a blend that remains at 87-octane grade material, according to the Oil Price Information Service.
On top of that, tensions in the Ukraine could disrupt supply that runs through and from the country, which could cause prices to spike.
Gasoline prices have remained mostly steady over the past week, and is still cheaper than the $3.59 per gallon reported a year ago. The highest gas has ever been was in July 2008 when regular unleaded topped $4.
Diesel has remained steady over the past year, currently at $4.05 per gallon, compared to $4.03 in March 2013. Its highest price was $4.82, also in July 2008.
But there is good news on the horizon. Although there is the potential that gas could climb another 20 cents per gallon in the coming weeks nationally, it is expected to start falling as April continues on. That will especially be the case when gas stations switch over to its summer blend gasoline May 1.
Prices in March typically climb 20 cents during March, but so far this year, that average has been 8 cents nationwide. AAA says it’s not expecting prices to finish as high as they were last year.
The most expensive gas in Florida is in West Palm Beach where prices are $3.67 per gallon. The cheapest is in Tallahassee at $3.45 for regular unleaded.