The causes of gas fluctuations throughout the year

Taps are photographed at a gas station in Frankfurt, Germany, on Oct. 5, 2022. The Saudi-led...
Taps are photographed at a gas station in Frankfurt, Germany, on Oct. 5, 2022. The Saudi-led OPEC oil cartel and allied producing countries, including Russia, are scheduled to decide how much oil to supply to the global economy amid weakening demand in China and uncertainty about the impact of new Western sanctions against Russia that could take significant amounts of oil off the market.(AP Photo/Michael Probst, File)
Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 4:41 AM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - At different times of the year, gas prices can fluctuate based on factors other than supply and demand, or foreign conflicts.

In peacetime, when the economy is mild, you may notice a cycle as to when gas prices change annually.

First, gas producers release different blends for the summer and winter seasons. During the summer, gas has a greater chance of evaporating so refiners put in less of an additive giving it a lower ‘Reid vapor pressure,’ to slow that down. Because it’s a higher-grade fuel, you may see prices up as much as $.15 more per gallon from other times in the year.

In the winter, more additive is put in to help your vehicle start when it’s cold outside. This blend is cheaper to produce so gas may often be lower, $.10 to $.30 cents per gallon, from September to April.

It’s common for some states switch to a winter blend around October. However, in 2022, due to high gas prices, California tried to switch blends in September to bring prices down in that state.

Refineries often shutdown in February to do their annual repairs and maintenance. As a result, there’s less gas being produced so, by limiting supply, there may be an increase in gas prices. Following this shutdown period, refineries often switch over to their summer blend gasoline in time for peak travel season.

Because of demand over the summer months for travel, gas demand stays up through August. Prices can be as much as 10-15% higher this time of year.

In the fall, as travel slows, demand goes down and so does the price of gas.

When other factors are introduces like conflict, releases from the National Petroleum Reserve or a recession, fuel prices can fluctuate with those events; all of these converged during the summer making gas prices high, with some states seeing $5 to $6 per gallon of gas.

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