$5 Gallon Gas by Summer?

The Los Angeles Times reports today the American national average for a gallon of regular gasoline has rose above $3.50 a gallon on just three occasions, but it has never happened this early in the year. Analysts say it’s likely a sign that price at the pump will rise to some of the highest levels ever seen later this year.

“Early February crude oil prices are higher than they’ve ever been on similar calendar dates through the years, and the price of crude sets the standard for gasoline prices,” Kloza said in the LA Times, later adding, “We’ve lost a number of refineries in the last six months [to permanent closure. Some of those refineries represented the key to a smooth spring transition from winter-to-spring gasoline.”

Some cities, like Los Angeles and New York, are already closing in on $4 a gallon, said Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com.

Oil prices remained at historically high levels on Monday, rising $2.23 to $100.90 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That’s 18% higher over a year ago. In London, oil rose 48 cents to $117.79 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe Exchange.