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LIBRARY gas prices

At $2.71, national gas prices are at their most expensive point in nearly three years and continue to climb. On the week, the national average increased a nickel.

“Expensive crude oil prices, unrest in the Middle East and strong domestic demand, are some of the factors driving spring gas prices toward new heights,” said Charlotte-based Carolinas AAA spokesperson Tiffany Wright. “Gas prices could increase another 5 to 10 cents this season, but right now we don’t expect we’ll see the $3 mark.”

In the Carolinas, pump prices have hit their highest of the year as well. In North Carolina, the state average is currently $2.62, a 6-cent increase over the past week.

In South Carolina, the state average is $2.48, a 5-cent increase on the week. Despite the increase, South Carolina still ranks among the least expensive states for gas prices in the country.

GasBuddy.com's Sunday survey of 3,028 outlets showed S.C. prices averaging $2.46 a gallon.

Including the change in gas prices in South Carolina during the past week, prices Sunday were 34.1 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 20.4 cents per gallon higher than a month ago.

The national average has increased 17.7 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 30.1 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

"The seasonal surge at gas pumps is in full motion, causing the most dreaded time of year for fearful motorists, especially of what may still be coming," said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.

"With the national average gas price now at its highest since July 26, 2015, I can't immediately allay all fears of a continued spike in gas prices, however, we're likely in the closing innings of the seasonal rise -- let's just hope we don't go to extra innings."

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