Gas prices soar past $4 per gallon in central Indiana

Economist blames increase on refinery work

INDIANAPOLIS - Gas prices in central Indiana are near $4 a gallon and some parts of the state are seeing even higher prices.

In the last 24 hours, price sat some stations have jumped 30 to 40 cents a gallon.

The problem is running throughout the Great  Lakes region, and prices in the five-state region are among the highest in the county.

Indiana is currently the fifth highest in the continental United States with an average of $3.96 a gallon.

Drivers are angry about the jump in prices.

"Prices are going up. It's getting ridiculous. I think the government has some control over this and that they could do something about it. It's hurting the common, everyday worker tremendously. You have to get back and forth to work. The gas prices are killing us," one driver said.

One Purdue economist, Wally Tyner, said the Midwest is getting hit terribly hard, 40 cents above the national average. 

Michigan prices are running higher than California, which Tyner said he has never seen. He blames it on lack of production from the area's refineries due to an unprecedented series of outages.

"The spread between Midwest prices and national is due to the refinery outages we have in the area. And most of the refineries in the Midwest have some kind of production issue, either conversion to a different kind of crude or a maintenance problem or a leak or whatever. So we're importing gasoline from other regions now, because the spread is so huge," Tyner said.

The Call 6 Investigators looked into the cause of the price hike. The state reached out to the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission to ask why so many refineries are having unplanned maintenance issues at the same time.

The Attorney General's office has been monitoring daily pricing since after Sep. 11 and said it is too early to call today's pricing gas gouging.

"When we go into this time of year, because we have an increase in demand to summer driving conditions, a lot of refineries go through maintenance, but what happened this year, that has not happened in previous years, is the number of refineries that had unplanned issues that took out all or some of the supply to the Midwest region," said Thomas Bodin with the Attorney General's office.

Tyner said the refineries are due to come back on line soon. He suggested to avoid filling up a gas tank over the next week if possible. He said prices should be lower after the next week.

Click here to check local gas prices.

Follow Norman Cox on Twitter: @normancox6

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