TODAY   |  February 05, 2013

Gas prices rising due to refinery closings, shortages

If you’ve been noticing gas prices rising in recent weeks, you are not alone. NBC’s Tom Costello looks at why prices are hiking, and finds pain at the pump may continue to increase before it gets better.

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>>> gas prices are rising again this morning, the national average jumping another cent overnight to 3.53 for unleaded regular. also a 17-cent hike in just a week. tom costello takes a look at the reasons why. tom, good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, matt. yes, we hear you in california and new york and illinois and vermont. we know you're paying a lot more there, of course. you can blame a lot of things here. for the beginning, refinery shutdowns, a shift over to summer blends and a perception on wall street that the economy is picking up. it is all the talk from coast to coast , those pump prices.

>> i don't even want to like know the amount at the end of the week because i don't want to get depressed.

>> i'm going to drive a lot less for now, i know that for sure.

>> you're wasting like 60 bucks a week.

>> reporter: several refineries are down for maintenance, a supply shortage in california , oil prices are rising. then there are economic factors.

>> there's often a run-up in gas prices in february and march as the refineries transition from making the winter grade to the summer grade of gasoline. summer blend is often more expensive and more costly to make and that means more cost at the gas pump .

>> reporter: and the price hikes really hit home. average american household spent $2,900 on gas in 2012 , just under 4% of their income before taxes. with the exception of 2008 , that was the highest in nearly 30 years. while gas prices may move higher in the coming weeks, over the coming months they could go lower.

>> looking at the entire year now, i believe that 2013 will probably finish with lower prices than the entire year of 2012 , when we look at the yearly average. for now it's going to be pain at the pump.

>> listen to this. the union of concerned scientists says the typical american, by the time they have taken care of their car for the life of their car, they will have spent as much filling that car as they did on the price of the car unless, of course, they got a really fuel efficient car. back to you.

>> tom costello down in washington for us. the prices around here are crazy.

>> terrible.

>> california , other places, they are much higher. then you go across the border to new jersey where you live --

>> not that bad. they fill it up for you.

>> great.

>> all the attendants are wearing