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$4 gasoline showing up at Tampa area stations

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Published:   |   Updated: March 20, 2013 at 12:49 PM

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TAMPA -

The average price locally is $3.869, but factors such as the summer driving season and oil speculators are inflating the price to the $4 level.

Gas stations around Tampa Bay have broken the dreaded $4 gasoline barrier.

A Shell station at Westshore Boulevard and Cypress Avenue in Tampa now charges $4.06 per gallon for regular unleaded when consumers pay with a credit card.

"It's ridiculous," said Trey Darrigo, fueling up his Nissan Pathfinder on the way to the beach in Pinellas County. "I'm a student, so it really hurts." He avoided the worst of it by paying $20 in cash up front, so his price was $3.94 per gallon – the price advertised on the road sign.

A grand total of eight stations in Tampa Bay now charge more than $4 for regular if customers pay with a credit card, according to the fuel data analysis company OPIS.

Almost a dozen other stations now sit at the psychologically powerful $3.99 barrier.

Florida's statewide average is $3.916, and the Tampa Bay area is at $3.869, up from $3.788 last week and $3.604 a month ago. As of Tuesday morning, the cheapest price in town was $3.77, with one Citgo station selling at that price at 3603 S. Falkenburg Rd. in Riverview.

As prices rose this spring, gasoline was bound to hit $4 per gallon at some point this summer, according to gas watchers who point to a slew of factors – the summer driving season, storm disruptions at U.S. refineries, oil speculators inflating the price, a relatively weaker U.S. dollar, surging demand for oil from India and China.

Thankfully for drivers, oil watchers expect prices will subside later this autumn.

Contact Richard Mullins at (813) 259-7919 or rmullins@tampatrib.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/DailyDeadline.

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