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Pain at the pump to get worse

Gasoline prices for the three grades are near $4 per gallon as posted on the sign outside a fuel station in Wexford, Pa. on Friday, March 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Enough already. That’s likely what many consumers are saying in the wake of Chicago area gasoline prices that spiked 79 cents a gallon in the past month and 17 cents a gallon from a week ago.

The average price of unleaded regular gas was $4.33 a gallon Monday, up from $4.16 a gallon a week ago and up from $3.54 a gallon a month earlier, according to AAA, Wright Express and the Oil Price Information Service.

Gas prices have shot up as oil prices have risen amid tensions raised because of Iran’s nuclear program.

“I think you can expect some more increases in the next couple of weeks” as refineries switch to the more expensive summer blends of gasoline, said Oil Price Information Service Chief Oil Analyst Tom Kloza.

He expects prices to peak in the Chicago area on average around $4.50 a gallon and then start drifting down here and nationally this spring.

“I think you start drifting down from May through the end of the year,” he said.

But all bets are off if “we hear about some sort of impending attacks” in Iran, he noted.

The cheapest per-gallon gas prices in the Chicago area posted on Monday were:

†$4.05 at 7-Eleven, 1101 W. Laraway Road and Nelson Road, New Lenox.

†$4.09 at 7-Eleven, 103 W. Margaret St. and Williams Street, Thornton.

†$4.14 at Murphy USA, 19141 S. Halsted, Glenwood.

†$4.15 at Citgo, 844 S. Halsted, Chicago Heights.