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Gas prices continue to climb in Arizona, could top $2 for first time in 2016

Gas prices are displayed at a Valero station in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. The California Air Resources Board voted Friday to restore rules requiring a 10 percent cut in carbon emissions on fuels sold in the state by 2020, despite oil industry objections that it could drive up gas prices. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

PHOENIX — Arizona drivers, beware: Gas prices are continuing to climb throughout the state, and one official claimed the average price of gasoline could top $2 for the first time in 2016.

Michelle Donati with Triple-A of Arizona said the increase in gas prices can be attributed to the seasons. Historically, prices can increase as much as $.50 per gallon as spring transitions into summer.

“If the current trend continues, both the state and nationwide average may climb above the $2 mark for the first time this year,” she said.

Donati said the increased prices are also due to an increased demand, thanks to a greater number of drivers hitting the roads.

“You have the fact that refineries are conducting maintenance to prepare for the busy summer driving season, so that results in temporary decline in fuel production,” she said.

In addition, the transition to summer blend gasoline is starting, which is more expensive to produce, she said.

“You have the fact that commodities, like the price of crude oil is back trading in the high $30-per-barrel range,” she said. “All of those factors combined have contributed to the higher prices we’ve experienced in the last week.”

Although it is hard to predict how high gas prices will reach this summer, Donati said Arizonans are still paying $.44 less per gallon than this time last year.

“While prices are moving up, we’re starting at a much lower price point,” she said. “That should be an indication, barring unforeseen circumstances, that prices would likely peak this year at a lower point than they did last year.”

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