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13 states now with $4 a gallon gas after tornadoes shut seven refineries

May 2, 2011 | 12:41 pm

Fi-gasspan Analysts said that the tornadoes that ripped a swath of death and destruction through the South last week also temporarily shut down seven of the nation's refineries, exacerbating strains on supply and providing yet another boost to fuel prices across the nation.

Two weeks ago, just six states were averaging more than $4 a gallon for regular gasoline. Before the tornadoes, two more states had joined the list last week. But now there are 13 states above $4 a gallon, with another 10 states at an average of $3.937 a gallon or higher, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.

The AAA Fuel Gauge Report uses data compiled from more than 100,000 retail outlets across the U.S. by the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express.

The daily AAA report said that the national average for regular grade gasoline had risen to $3.952 a gallon, up from $3.863 a week ago. In California, which has the nation's second most-expensive gasoline, the average price rose to $4.259 a gallon, up from $4.217 a week earlier.

Similar findings were expected later Monday when the Energy Department releases its separate telephone survey of service stations around the U.S.

"What you have now is the last of the spring maintenance season for refineries combining with Mother Nature wreaking havoc. The good news is that the seven refineries were mostly just power outages and not real damage, so they were back online pretty quickly, but the damage to prices had been done," said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service.

Kloza said he was hopeful that prices would be peaking soon and would then begin to go down.

Meanwhile, oil prices fell only slightly after U.S. forces took out Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Brent crude for June, the London benchmark price, fell 66 cents to $125.23 a barrel, reaching an intraday high of $126.54 after an early slide to $121.67. Brent's 2011 peak so far was the $127.02 a barrel reached on April 11.

In New York, U.S. crude for June fell 41 cents to $113.52, having reached $114.83, the highest intraday price since Sept. 22, 2008.

-- Ronald D. White

File photo: Associated Press