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As gas prices soar, Southland gas consumers sore

Mary McKefills her car up with gas Speedway stati183rd Street Harlem Avenue Tinley Park IL Monday February 18 2013. Gas

Mary McKeon fills her car up with gas at the Speedway station at 183rd Street and Harlem Avenue in Tinley Park, IL on Monday February 18, 2013. Gas prices at this station rose significantly overnight. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 20, 2013 6:26AM



Motorists filling up with gas Monday in Tinley Park were outraged, disgusted, and wished they had filled their tanks Sunday, when the price per gallon was at least 25 cents cheaper.

Prices shot up overnight to $4.15 per gallon for regular unleaded at the Speedway gas station at 183rd Street and Harlem Avenue, just off Interstate 80.

Relief is nowhere in sight, either, according to Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst for Gasbuddy.com. Gas could be as high as $4.60 per gallon within a few weeks, he said.

“Chicago is off the charts” with its gas price increases, seeing more aggressive price hikes than any other market in the country, he said.

Only southern California and Hawaii have higher prices, according to gasbuddy.com.

Some people talked about the ways they cut down on spending in order to save money for gas.

“The economy is bad enough. We just can’t find any relief,” Patty Brooks, of Chicago, said as she filled up her sport utility vehicle. “I need a new car and I’m going to look for something with better gas mileage, maybe a hybrid.”

Ray Kozicki said he spends $1,000 on gas alone each month due to his business travels, from Chicago to Des Moines, Iowa.

“I had to cut back on advertising for my own small insurance company to save money for gas,” Kozicki said.

Mary McKeon was on her way to Michigan and regretting that she didn’t fill up her tank the day before when gas was 20 cents less.

“I don’t stop to get coffee any more,” McKeon said.

Richard Toth loves his 12-year-old Eldorado that only gets 16 miles to the gallon.

“This is terrible. It’s ridiculous,” he said, as he partially filled his tank. “I should have come yesterday when it was $3.85.”

Like many, Toth is retired and on a limited income, so he decided he will have to combine his errands to save on gas.

“I’m disgusted. There’s no cause for this,” he said.

It’s actually a combination of causes, Laskoski said.

As refineries switch from the winter blend to the more expensive summer blend, they perform a lot of equipment maintenance, and operate at lower capacities.

“When you have 135 refineries all doing the same thing at the same time, it creates a tighter supply,” he said.

Plus, the value of the U.S. dollar on the global market is weakened, so it takes more dollars to buy imported oil.

In the Midwest, which has seen some dramatic gas price hikes, local refineries such as BP Amoco in Whiting and Citgo in Lemont, have had some problems, Laskoski said.

“All these factors contribute to the rise in prices. It’s more complicated than people understand,” he said.

The Chicago area may continue to see incremental increases, but “we hope the rate of increases will slow down,” he said.

“We were predicting the Chicago area would see gas prices between $4.35 and $4.60 per gallon by April. But that may occur sooner,” Laskoski said.

As of Monday afternoon, gasbuddy.com reported the average price for a gallon of gas in the Chicago area was $4.09, with prices ranging from a low of $3.79 in Melrose Park to $4.59 on Chicago’s North Side. The national average was $3.69 per gallon.

Those who don’t like Chicago prices can head west to the cheapest prices in the country. Billings, Mont., has the lowest price of $3.12 per gallon.

Contributing: Brian and Tim Krafcisin



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