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Gas prices hit a new high again

    High gas prices show up Friday at HIram's Chevron located at 140 South School St. in Honolulu.

The average price of regular, unleaded gas in Hawaii set another record today at $4.611 a gallon, largely because of a spike in the price of gas in Wailuku.

The AAA Hawaii Daily Fuel Gauge survey saw the average price of gas in Hawaii rise almost a penny from yesterday. Gas prices in Honolulu actually dipped by 1/10th of a cent and Hilo’s gas price of about $4.75 a gallon was the same as Saturday. But the average price of gas in Wailuku rose almost 2 cents a gallon to about $4.84 a gallon.

In Honolulu, the average price of regular gasoline is $4.475 a gallon,  a little less than a penny below the Honolulu record price of $4.483, set on May 8, 2011. Gas prices are about 15 cents higher than last month in Honolulu and about a penny higher than last week.

Hawaii’s statewide average is about 19 cents higher than last month and about a penny higher than last week.

The price of gas here is the highest in the nation, followed by Alaska at $4.37 a gallon and California, where prices average $4.27 a gallon, according to AAA.

Experts say the average price of gasoline could surpass $4 per gallon nationwide as early as this week. It’s already $3.93 per gallon, a record for this time of year.

The increase nationally is due in part to seasonal changes in gasoline supply. It’s the time of year refineries reduce output to repair equipment and start making a cleaner, more expensive blend of gasoline for summer.

Since 2000, pump prices have risen every year between early February and late May. The annual increase has boosted prices by 27 percent on average, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores. This year, prices have risen 14 percent, or 48 cents per gallon, since Feb. 1.

Strong global demand, heightened tensions with Iran and a smattering of supply disruptions have kept crude oil prices elevated for months. The oil used to make most of the gasoline in the U.S. has averaged $120 per barrel this year.

Distributors and gas station owners buy gasoline every day based on a price set on exchanges. Station owners then change their prices based on how much their last shipment cost, how much the next shipment is likely to cost and what their closest competitors are charging.

Even though it may not feel like it, gasoline prices do usually dip after their spring peak. Last year gasoline fell from $3.98 per gallon on May 5 to $3.55 on July 1 and finished the year at $3.28.

Also, summer gasoline blends improve fuel economy by 1 percent to 2 percent. That means drivers will at least get to go a little bit farther on that pricey tank of gas.

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