Gas Prices

Gas prices haven't been this high in years, but Kansas is better than most

Motorists drive by the QuikTrip at 21st and Arkansas Monday, where gas prices have gone up on Monday. (April 30, 2018)
Motorists drive by the QuikTrip at 21st and Arkansas Monday, where gas prices have gone up on Monday. (April 30, 2018) The Wichita Eagle

Gasoline prices are at their highest level in three and a half years. And if you're thinking about waiting to fill up until prices go down, you'll soon have an empty tank.

"Motorists have been spoiled the past few years with inexpensive gas prices," AAA Kansas spokesman Shawn Steward said in a release. "We expect prices to continue increasing, potentially another 10 cents, through Memorial Day and then will likely stabilize during the summer, with the understanding that if demand spikes, prices are likely to follow."

National gas prices averaged $2.81 on Monday, their highest level since November 2014, AAA reported. Pump prices averaged $3.34 that year, peaking at $3.70 in April and bottoming out at $2.25 in December.

Monday prices in Wichita averaged $2.49 for regular, $2.69 for mid, $2.89 for premium and $2.90 for diesel, AAA lists online. Each of those is more than 25 cents higher than a year ago.

Regular gas in Wichita is 29 cents more expensive than this time last year. That means if you were to fill an empty 15-gallon tank, you would pay an extra $4.35.

The same amount of diesel would cost an extra $6.90 after the price increased 46 cents from last year.

Consider yourself fortunate, though, if you buy gas in Wichita. The city has the 12th-lowest metro area gas prices in the nation, AAA reports.

The same goes for the rest of Kansas, where the statewide average price is $2.55. You would pay more in 44 other states, AAA reports.

Gas prices normally rise as demand increases from families going on vacation, but several factors have helped drive oil prices higher. A wave of global economic growth has driven up demand for oil. At the same time, production cutbacks initiated by OPEC last year have helped whittle down oil supplies.

Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Markit, said the average U.S. household is projected to spend an extra $190 on fuel this year.

"At the higher income levels, this won't really have much of an effect," Behravesh said. "But it's a bigger deal for lower-income families, because a bigger share of their budgets goes to things like gasoline."

Industries that rely heavily on fuel, such as shipping companies, airlines, vehicle fleet operators and other transportation companies, are seeing rising costs, which eventually will be passed on to consumers.

Kansas drivers that want to pay less should drive south. Gas in Oklahoma is averaging 3 cents less. Missouri's average is the same as gas in Kansas, and Nebraska and Colorado are each at least 10 cents more.

You can find the cheapest gas in Kansas in Columbus, at $2.42 a gallon, AAA reports. The highest is $2.90 in Altoona.

Contributing: Associated Press