Record gas prices are taking many Americans by surprise - the spike coming before the summer driving season.
Next time you visit the gas pump think about this, every drop of fuel you’re putting in your car is the result of an incredibly complex, expensive process called refining.
Experts say the recent run-up in gas is mostly due to a bottle neck at the country’s 149 refineries. According to government figures these massive complexes are running all out to turn crude oil into gasoline, jet fuel and diesel, but a recent run of unexpected problems at refineries across the country have left the United States in a precarious position where demand for gas is outstripping supply.
As of April there were 30 unplanned refinery outages cutting production by 16.8 million gallons-a-day. That’s left the nation’s stockpile of gasoline below the average amount for this time of year and we’re just a few weeks away from the start of summer driving season.
The U.S. has added refining capacity in the past ten years, but building a completely new refinery is a pipe dream. They cost billions of dollars to build and require almost a decade’s worth of environmental studies and permits to get a new refinery online.