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Gas prices could drop as much as 15 cents before rising again

By Times Staff
Gas prices are expected to drop as much as 15 cents over the next month-and-a-half before going up again for spring. Pictured are gas prices at the Exxon gas station on the corner of 1st Ave. N and 31st St. in St. Petersburg Jan. 3. | [DIRK SHADD | Times]

Drivers may get some temporary relief from high pump prices before the seasonal upswing takes effect.

AAA, The Auto Club Group, predicts that motorists could see prices drop 5 to 15 cents per gallon by the end of February. Tampa Bay gas was $2.40 per gallon Monday, just behind the state average of $2.45 per gallon. Nationally, gas was $2.49 per gallon Monday.

"Unfortunately, springtime is (a) springboard for prices at the pump, and we may see a 40 to 50 cent jump by the summer," Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesperson, said. "Of course, this forecast could change dramatically if there are unexpected shifts in fuel supply and/or the stock market."

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Prices typically jump in the spring because of increased demand and decreased supply. Spring is also when refineries go offline for periods in the spring to do maintenance, tightening gas supplies. Gas prices typically go up between 30 and 75 cents during this period, AAA said.