Record corn prices and refinery problems in Indiana and Illinois caused gas prices to spike at the end of July in the Chicago area and around the Midwest.
The major price increase was the first since March and the largest July increase experienced since about 2000, according to AAA. The national average gas price increased 5.1 percent or 17 cents a gallon during the month of July.
Overall, prices were generally down during the month of July in the Chicago area, with gas prices averaging about $3.60 in the Chicago area, according to AAA Chicago. Prices increased significantly at the end of the month due to refinery problems
"Illinois, Indiana and states in the Midwest have seen prices rise since last week due to production issues at the BP refinery in Whiting, Ind. and the Citgo refinery in Lemont," Beth Mosher, director of public affairs for AAA Chicago said in a news release. "With the supply from these refineries impacted, and the associated increase in wholesale prices already seen in the region, there is reason to suspect that prices in the areas supplied by these facilities may continue to rise until the situation is resolved."
In addition to the refinery problems, rising corn prices have caused ethanol costs to increase about 17 percent in July, according to a story in Huffington Post.
During July, the national average price for a gallon of gas was $3.42, according to AAA. Prices locally have recently risen dramatically, reaching $3.99 at many stations around the area.
As of Thursday afternoon, the cheapest gas prices for a gallon of regular unleaded were $3.80 at the at 6801 W. 87th St.; $3.81 at the ; and $3.88 at the
Prices are expected to remain flat with the possibility for a small increase during August and through Labor Day, according to AAA. After Labor Day prices should start to decline after the summer driving season.
“Drivers will continue to face high pump prices in the weeks ahead as the summer draws to a close,” said Avery Ash, AAA spokesperson. “Relief fortunately may be around the corner as we expect gas prices to drop this fall.”