Gas prices skyrocket in Chicago: blame OPEC

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Gas prices are skyrocketing in Chicago, and experts said it's the result of international events.

Imagine your livelihood depending on the price of a staple that's at the heart of modern society. That's the predicament of Jose Alonso, who makes ends meet driving Lyft. But he said with gas at these prices it's barely worth it.

"Usually I put $20 or $25 in," he said at the BP station in Lincoln Park just southwest of the zoo. "Today I put $40, so if I make $100 a day I only make $60 instead of $80 or $100."

Alonso said he talks regularly with colleagues working airport runs.

"My coworkers at the airport say they are working less hours because it is not worth it to spend that gas money, because you have to go around look for the rides and waste the gas," he said.

Alonso is not alone facing sticker shock at the pump. Environmental consultant BrIan Mavraganes usually forks out $60 to fill his Range Rover. Wednesday, the nozzle finally clicked closed north of $90 .

"I never understood how gas prices could change from one day to another, because the gas is already in the tanks. Just because gas went up somewhere else doesn't mean the gas in the tanks is more expensive," he lamented.

Gas Buddy tracks the cost of gasoline nationwide and said what the uptick in prices isn't just a jacking up ahead of a long weekend, it's the end of a period of lower prices.

"OPEC, the organization of petroleum exporting countries, is probably the biggest reason prices are higher, by cutting oil production about 17 months ago," explained Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at "The cut in global oil production has drastically cut inventory, causing oil prices to go up, and that has been worsened by the economic turmoil in Venezuela."

The South American country has some of the world's largest oil reserves, but has been mired in an economic depression for years. And so, DeHaan said, it's been a steady climb for gas prices.

In the last 30 days prices Chicago metro is up an average of 27 cents per gallon and up 66 cents per gallon since Feb. 2018.

Since that OPEC decision in Nov 2016 they've risen $1.09 per gallon.

Given how cold the spring has been, nobody is itching for a return to cooler weather. But when that happens in the fall there is hope according, to GasBuddy.

"As we come off demand season, come fall and winter, we may see prices under $3per gallon," DeHaan said

But for Tiffany Geiger that's tough. A suburban mom with a pair of sleepy toddlers in the back, free parking is a must if a Lincoln Park Zoo visit is to be had.

"We are kind of... stuck," she said haltingly after filling up her Honda Odyssey van for $75 instead of the normal $50 and change. "We can't do too much, we can't drive too much then all my money is going to go to gas."

So international economics and power politics are having their effect in Chicago. Something to think about as you plan your next staycation.
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