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Florida gas prices rise on anticipated demand, refinery shutdown

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TALLAHASSEE - Gas prices in Florida went up last and topped the national average as anticipated demand and the unplanned shutdown at a large refinery in Indiana pushed pump prices higher.

The AAA auto club said the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded Tuesday in Florida was $3.34, up seven cents from a week earlier and up 34 cents from a month ago.

In Miami-Dade, the average was $3.35, up from $3.28 a week ago, and in Broward, it was $3.39, up from $3.32 last week.

Meanwhile, the national average Tuesday was $3.28, up a nickel from a week earlier and up 20 cents from a month ago.

AAA pointed to a shutdown at the BP-Whiting refinery in Indiana as a "significant contributor" to increases. The refinery, which processes about 435,000 barrels of crude oil a day, has been offline for more than two weeks after a power outage.

Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis with the fuel-savings app GasBuddy, cautioned that with other "major refinery issues persisting across various regions" and the eventual transition to the summer blend of gasoline, price increases are likely in March and April.

"One of the most critical elements to how much gas prices will climb is how quickly and effectively refiners can finish their pre-summer maintenance, start producing EPA-mandated summer gasoline, and build up supply of it before Memorial Day," De Haan wrote online Monday.

The summer blend of gas is more expensive to produce than the winter blend. The Panhandle continued to have the lowest average gas prices, including $3.07 a gallon Tuesday in the Panama City area. In contrast, motorists in the West Palm Beach-Boca Raton area paid an average of $3.51.

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