Expert explains why Ohio gas prices can fluctuate so quickly


COLUMBUS – Every Monday and Friday 10TV tracks the cheapest gas prices around central Ohio but sometimes the difference in prices over the course of just a few days can be alarming.

10TV learned it’s not coincidental.

There are a few reasons behind the fluctuations:

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Refining costs have to be accounted for, which can depend on seasonal changes, according to Chris Zeigler, API Ohio executive director.

“That’s an environmental regulation that refiners have to comply with,” Zeigler said.

For example, we’re gearing up for the summer-blend now, which costs more because it is made specially to comply with environmental regulations.

That is because when it is warmer, fuel from cars evaporates easier, causing issues for the ozone and leading to poor air quality.

Read more about the difference between winter-blend and summer-blend gasoline by clicking here.

Read more about the latest trends for summer driving and gasoline, according to Dean Foreman, chief economist for API, by clicking here.


Regional events such as natural disasters can also play a role in the cost of gasoline.

“You could have a situation where there's a hurricane in the Houston area or in the Gulf region and that could have an impact because we do get resources, petroleum resources, from other parts of the country that are shipped up here to our region,” Zeigler said.


Distribution costs involve the transportation of the fuel.

After the refiner makes the gasoline they have to get it to a terminal to transport it to a retail location. Usually, the product travels through a pipeline to a terminal and from a terminal, it is sent by tanker truck to the retail locations.

There’s also marketing costs; the cost of employment, leases, rentals, insurance, benefits for the employees who are making sure that the gasoline is available for consumers.


Ohio is now the 30th state to raise or reform its gas tax this decade, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP).

Starting July 1, 2019, a 10.5 cent gas tax and 19 cent diesel tax increase will take effect with the purpose of fixing deteriorating roads and bridges around the state.

Read more about the gas tax in Ohio and how it compares to other states by clicking here.

But Zeigler told 10TV the number one component is:


Crude oil accounts for about 57 percent of the cost of gasoline, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration and right now, Zeigler said, there may be a plus side to that.

“Thankfully, the U.S. is now the number one producer of natural gas and crude oil in the world so because we’re developing more of our crude resources here domestically in the U.S., we’re included that on the global market so it’s actually reduced crude oil prices globally,” he said. “That’s had an impact on gasoline prices as a result.”

This means that while some weeks may still seem pricier than others, because of an increase in domestic natural gas and crude oil, prices have stabilized overall.

Tune in to 10 This Morning each Monday and Friday starting at 4:25 a.m. for a check on the cheapest gas prices around central Ohio.

Find the cheapest gas prices near you by clicking here.