Arts District on Santa Fe. Denver, Colorado.

Traffic in the Arts District on Santa Fe near downtown Denver.

Gas prices shot up in Colorado and the rest of the United States this week, following gasoline refineries going offline due to severe winter storms in the Gulf Coast region.

Compared to this time last week, gas prices increased by $0.07 per gallon in Colorado and $0.13 nationwide, reaching a $2.63 national average, according to a report from AAA Colorado.

That is the most expensive gas has been since October 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“Last week was the equivalent of a hurricane event," said Skyler McKinley with AAA. "With close to 40% of U.S. crude production offline because refineries are closed, there is going to be pain at the pump until operations resume.”

In Denver, gas prices have risen to $2.47 per gallon, up $0.19 from last month and $0.13 from last year. In Colorado Springs, prices are $2.49 per gallon, up $0.17 from last month and last year.

Throughout the state, gas prices are the highest in Vail at $2.90 per gallon. The Fort Collins/Loveland region was the only area in the state to experience a decrease in gas prices, going from $2.47 per gallon in 2020 to $2.44 this week.

Refinery outages were reported in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kansas last week. However, McKinley said operations should pick up soon.

“Luckily, most of the nearly two dozen impacted refiners should be able to restart operations this week, if they haven't already,” he said.

According to the Energy Information Administration, gasoline supply is still healthy at 257 million barrels — 2 million barrels less than this time last year. This should provide enough to recover impacted areas.

Regardless, gas prices are expected to continue rising as demand increases. Demand is currently at 8.4 million barrels a day, the highest it has been for several months, according to the EIA.

McKinley said large spikes in prices should subside by the summer.

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