Gas Prices Up; Speculators May Be to Blame

With gas around $3.55 in Knox, $3.49 in North Judson, the price of gas has risen nearly 15 cents over the past three days and more than 20 cents since a month ago. According to Patrick DeHaan with, this rise in price is due to the increasing price of crude oil, which has jumped by about 9 percent since the start of the year.

DeHaan said the price of oil has crossed back over $100 per barrel for the first time in the past couple months; in early January, he said prices were closer to $92 per barrel.

“That is a huge factor,” DeHaan explained. “Especially when you consider the fact that oil prices, to start the year, were closer to 92 dollars per barrel. So we’re looking at about a 9 percent jump in the price of crude and, unfortunately, that now is showing up at gas pumps.”

This is due in a large part to “economic optimism,” DeHaan said. Over the last few weeks, the stock market has picked up, and he said speculators may have gotten back into the oil market and driven the price up.

“I believe that it could have been an opportunity that speculators got back in the market, buying it up on belief that the economy is going to improve, but beyond that, I can’t really justify why oil prices went up. It’s a tough one. A lot of the time, gas prices are connected to supply and demand somehow, but this time around, as can happen, oil prices, not a lot of reasons why they went up,” DeHaan said.

DeHaan said there is no shortage to explain the price jump, but refinery maintenance may also be playing a small role. He said refineries tend to do some maintenance around this time of year, so the approach of the summer driving season could cause prices to increase slightly.

Because of the nature of this price increase, and its apparent disconnection from supply and demand, DeHaan said it’s hard to tell when the price will drop again.