Pain at the Pump

Gas prices expected to rise

CREATED May 25, 2011

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MILWAUKEE - Prices at the gas pump may be jumping.

Experts are predicting a surge in prices before the weekend begins.

On Wednesday, drivers were paying $3.69/gallon in Oak Creek and $3.89/gallon on the south side.

If you look hard enough, you can still find those gas prices under $4/gallon, but people know that will not last.

"I might as well fill it up if the prices are going up," said Terry Hobbs, who was filling up at the pump.

Experts with Gasbuddy.com say that people should expect prices to spike in Milwaukee by Friday.

The reason: an ExxonMobil refinery in Joliet, Ill., is having mechanical problems.

That refinery produces 240,000 per day of crude oil, and much of that gas ends up in Wisconsin.

"When you have a problem at a refinery, there's a lot of panic buying which causes a lot of prices to go up," said Patrick Dehaan of Gasbuddy.com.

"Essentially, traders don't really know what's going on.  Exxon hasn't really disclosed what the timing will be to fix this, so the concern is we'll have a supply shortage this Memorial Day weekend."

A survey conducted by AAA reveals that regardless of whether there are high gas prices or not, most people will still make their holiday trip.

"Only about 40% of people said they would change their plans based on gas prices," explained Nelson Maldonado, an assistant field manager with AAA of Wisconsin.

But some people like Susan Hobach are making adjustments.

He does different things each day to make a full take of gas last.

"I make one trip, and I go around the whole city," said Hobach.

"If I have an errand to run, I wait until I have a couple of things to do and just make a circle, so I don't waste gas."

She thinks raising prices once again is just another way to make people pay.

"They keep finding other reasons to make it go up, and the profits these companies are making are ridiculous."

In 2010, prices were closer to $3.00/gallon.