The online app GasBuddy.com can find you cheaper gas, but analysts with the company study the industry relentlessly and are relied upon to predict gasoline trends.
NBC4‘s Mike Bowersock traveled to GasBuddy.com headquarters in Chicago to find out why Central Ohio’s gas prices have been so high.
When it comes to gas prices, what happens in Chicago impacts Central Ohio.
“It seems like in Chicago, there’s been the saying of don’t trust a politician in Chicago, but it’s getting to the point where you can’t trust the refineries in Chicago,” said Patrick DeHaan, of GasBuddy.com.
DeHaan was on the ground floor of GasBuddy.com when it started, and he’s regarded as one of the top gasoline analysts in the country.
Bowersock noticed the difference in early June when traveling in the south, so he started noting the different gas prices.
At about Lexington, Ky., gas prices took a major drop, and continued to decrease the farther he traveled from Columbus.
Georgia had the lowest prices, but in general, gas prices in the state were about 50 cents to 60 cents per gallon cheaper than Ohio.
In Florida, just south of Sarasota, gas was listed at $3.39 per gallon.
DeHaan said he wasn’t surprised by the difference.
“When a refinery in Chicago goes down, it’s going to impact gas prices in Ohio because gas refineries in Ohio may have to start producing and diverting that supply to the Chicago market,” DeHaan said.
That’s what happened this summer.
The BP Whiting refinery near Hammond, Ind. was partially closed this summer for upgrades.
Chicago gets nearly all its gasoline from Whiting. Central Ohio gets no gasoline from Whiting, but from Lima, Toledo and Canton.
Still, since there are so many people and cars and gas guzzling in Chicago, gasoline had to be diverted, and Central Ohio drivers paid the higher prices as a result.
“It seems that refineries in the Chicagoland region have been hit especially hard with numerous issues, whereas refineries in Toledo, Ohio, haven’t really had issues,” DeHaan said.
DeHaan said the lower prices near Lexington isn’t random either.
“There was a very fine line, say, for example, Kentucky where there’s going to be a line where some stations are receiving their supply from the effected region, and some stations perhaps in southern Kentucky that are being supplied by stations in the south that have a much lower price where there are going to be valid price discrepancies,” DeHaan said.
Do the refineries really need to shut down?
DeHaan said he doesn’t know, but that there is always a lot of head scratching as to why the refineries do what when they do.