Retail gasoline prices have risen for 14 days straight, according to AAA. The average price for the month of January was $3.32, the second highest January average ever, although a nickel cheaper than last year's record. In each of the last two years gasoline prices rose sharply at the beginning of the year because tensions in the Middle East raised fears that oil supplies would be disrupted. In 2011 it was the Libyan uprising; in 2012 it was Iran's threat to close a key shipping lane.
So far in 2013, gas has been cheaper than it was last year. But that could change by this weekend as stations pass along the cost of their higher priced gasoline to drivers.
The national average price has risen in nine of the last 10 Februarys. Last year gasoline prices jumped 28 cents, or 8 percent, in February and averaged $3.55 for the month.
Analysts still don't expect prices to follow last year's steep path through March that brought them to a high of $3.94 on April 6. Crude oil supplies are high, oil production is booming and the economy isn't growing very fast. Also, the tensions in the Middle East seem to have eased somewhat.
And consider this as you fill up on your way to a Super Bowl party this weekend: The oil and gas analyst Stephen Schork notes that while gasoline prices may seem high, they haven't risen nearly as fast as tickets to the big game. When the first Super Bowl was played 46 years ago, gasoline cost about 32 cents per gallon and Super Bowl tickets cost $10. Now gasoline is $3.42 and a seat in a distant corner of the Superdome costs $2,236 on the ticket-reselling site StubHub.
Put another way, a ticket to the Super Bowl in 1966 was worth about 31 gallons of gasoline then, enough for 2 fill-ups. A ticket to Sunday's game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans is worth 650 gallons — enough to fill a mid-size sedan 43 times.