HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Drivers were warned to brace for higher gas prices in the coming days and months.

GasBuddy blamed the effects that a stretch of extremely cold weather has had on refineries across the country.

GasBuddy said millions of barrels of refining capacity went offline because of the extreme cold in the south. Gas demand has also been trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

It predicted a jump of 10 to 20 cents per gallon from the current national average of $2.54 over the next two weeks.

The national average could rise to $2.65-$2.75 per gallon, resulting in the highest prices since 2019 and the highest seasonal prices in over five years. 

“The quicker the affected refineries are able to come back online, the better, and perhaps less painful for motorists than if they remain out of service for even longer,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “Oil prices have continued to rally as global oil demand recovers from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now the extreme cold weather shutting refineries down, us motorists just can’t seem to catch a break. We probably won’t see much, if any relief, anytime soon.”

Eleven refineries in Texas and one in Kansas at least partially shut down to the weather, GasBuddy reported. Unlike refineries in the north, those in the south are not equipped to handle historically low temperatures.

GasBuddy calculations showed 3.48 million barrels of refining capacity were offline as of midday Tuesday, or nearly 20 percent of total U.S. refining capacity, just under the amount shut down due to Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Every day that these refineries are not operating, the country consumes more gasoline than it produces.

Then, as the warmer months arrive, refineries will have to switch over to the cleaner summer blend of fuels. That could push the average price per gallon to over $3.

Copyright 2021 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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