Pandemic, winter storms causing spike in gas prices

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Stopping for gas may sometimes feel like taking a gamble, with prices moving up and down seemingly every day, but the past few weeks have seen the average price increase 40 cents per gallon, an expense felt across the nation and here in the Natural State.

Gas prices last month were around $2.22 in Little Rock. Now, they’re up to $2.58. 

Little Rock driver Katherine tried her luck at the pump Monday afternoon. She’s felt the increase firsthand. 

“I have noticed in the past couple months that that’s what’s been going on,” Katherine said.

One factor she believes led to the sharp uptick in price has to do with more cars on the road, saying, “I think the higher traffic we’re seeing [has] definitely [led to] a higher increase in gas.” And she’s not wrong: gas prices dropped a year ago when the world went into quarantine, but only for 2020.

According to AAA, that trend is over and fuel suppliers are struggling to catch up. 

AAA spokesperson Nick Chabarria explains that, “production cuts overseas to try and balance out that supply and demand, that’s what kind of caused the steady rise.”

As for Arkansans, they’re seeing it twofold with last month’s winter storms shutting down regional oil refineries for days. 

“U.S. production overall due to the winter storms was down about 40%,” said Chabarria, with most of the production happening in hard-hit states like Texas. 

What does this mean for drivers? While the spike is on its way out, the cost will continue to steadily increase until international oil prices stabilize, something AAA predicts could happen in April.

Arkansas hasn’t been hit the hardest, Chabarria says the Natural State actually has the sixth-lowest gas prices in the country with pumps an average of 20 cents less than the national numbers.  

You can track gas prices in Little Rock using the KARK gas tracker HERE and follow regional and national trends and averages on AAA’s gas prices page HERE.

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