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Expert: $3 a gallon gas prices common in Chicago; peak may be near

Regular gas prices of at least $3 a gallon were common at most Chicago stations Monday, although one expert predicted a recent spike in prices could be nearing an end.

Across the six-county area, including Chicago, gas prices have increased more than 40 cents on average in the last week, both the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report and gasbuddy.com data indicated.

Nationally, gas prices have been flat for the last week. But the Chicago area saw a spike following problems at a BP refinery in Whiting, Ind.; issues at an Exxon Mobile refinery in Joliet, and the annual switchover from winter to more expensive summer blends, said Patrick DeHaan, an analyst with gasbuddy.com

As a result, regular gas was hard to find for less than $3 a gallon in Chicago on Monday.

Sub-$3 prices were far easier to grab in the suburbs, though prices there also have risen in the last week, DeHaan said.

The good news was that “most of the increase has already played out,’’ DeHaan said. “We are very close to a peak price.”

By later this week, or early next week, Chicago area prices should begin to drop, DeHaan said.

The average price for a gallon of regular gas in Chicago was $3.02 a gallon Monday, up from $2.99 on Sunday and from $2.68 a week ago, AAA data indicated.  That’s a 34 cent jump in just a week.

In the six-county area, including Chicago, regular gas was averaging $2.85 a gallon Monday — a 41-cent increase from a week ago, AAA data indicated.

Both averages are far down from a year ago, when city regular gas prices averaged $4.07 a gallon and the entire six-county area was paying an average $3.89 a gallon.