Nebraska and Iowa retail gasoline prices have risen over the past week, thanks to a handful of factors, including a recent increase in the price of a barrel of crude oil.

During the past week, crude oil prices have gone up $5 a barrel on the U.S. trading market, powering up the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded in Omaha, Nebraska and Iowa, said Rose White of AAA Nebraska.

“We are now seeing higher prices being passed on to consumers at the retail level,’’ she said.

Since last week, the average price in Omaha rose 6 cents to $1.65 a gallon, 7 cents to $1.70 in Nebraska and 10 cents to $1.73 in Iowa, according to AAA’s fuelgaugereport.com.

Friday in Omaha, a gallon of regular unleaded was selling for $1.58 in spots that a day earlier had sold it for $1.49.

The national average remained unchanged in the past week at $1.72 per gallon.

White said other economic factors also were behind the price uptick.

“With crude oil prices at a seven-year low, oil production companies are responding to the world glut of crude oil by cutting production,’’ she said.

Motorists can expect regional price differences as refineries undergo maintenance inspections, White said. If problems are found, she said, additional downtime and further production cuts could lead to price spikes.

Consumers are reminded, however, that the U.S. has decent supplies of crude oil and processed fuel, White said, with recent inventory reports showing crude oil stocks up 73 million barrels compared with last year. Processed fuel stocks are up 16 million barrels from last year.

The high supply levels will help prevent significant price swings, she said.

As the summer vacation season approaches, White said, higher demand for gasoline should put added pressure on retail prices to climb.

“We do expect to see some increase as result of the higher demand,’’ she said, “but the low crude oil prices and positive inventory reports are expected to keep prices very favorable for those vacationing this summer.’’

Meanwhile, White said, retail gas prices could remain fairly steady.

“With OPEC failing to show signs of production cuts and with Iran producing oil,’’ she said, “a world glut of oil will keep crude oil prices low.’’

Contact the writer: 402-444-1259, jay.withrow@owh.com

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