As gas prices inched their way up past $2 for the second week in a row, analysts say the trend will continue until spring. Motorists need not worry too much — prices aren't expected to exceed $3 a gallon through the summer.
"The trend will likely remain upward from the beginning of February and over the next two, three months we'll see prices, not going up every day, but by and large prices will tend to be rising," said Patrick DeHaan senior petroleum analyst for Gasbuddy.com.
"The light at the end of the tunnel is Michigan's average price is still going to remain far lower than it was last year."
To put prices in perspective: On Monday the average price in Michigan for self-serve regular was $2.22 a gallon versus $3.36 on Feb. 9, 2014, according to AAA Michigan.
"It's a glass half full, half empty," DeHaan said. "A lot of motorists are voicing frustrations over the rise in price, but compared to a year ago, things are not too shabby at all."
Demel McCree, 36, of Detroit, has noticed the higher prices.
"It's gone up over the last week and a half or so," he said as he pumped gas at a Marathon station on the corner of Fort and Trumbull, which was selling regular unleaded for $2.19.
He said he knows that gas prices are usually higher downtown, and since he needed some fuel to get home, he opted to put only $8 worth in his car's tank.
Joyce Bowles, 63, of Brownstown Township, said she enjoyed gas prices that were below $2 per gallon while they lasted.
"It used to cost me about $100 to fill this van up when gas was close to $4 a gallon," she said during a stop at the Marathon station. "Then I was paying about $45. That was real nice."
She said when prices are low "everything, the whole economy moves. I hope it doesn't go back to being close to $4 a gallon again. If it goes back, we're in trouble."
Michigan likely will hit $2.50 a gallon this spring, said Tom Kloza, Global Head of Energy Analysis for Oil Price Information Service. "That's much higher than the winter bottom, but more than a dollar below spring peaks from 2011-2014," he said.
Prices aren't expected to exceed $3 a gallon, said Susan Hiltz, spokesman for AAA Michigan: "We're hoping that's throughout the summer."
The cause for the increase? Refineries shut down some facilities to switch from winter formulations to the three or four summer formulations to meet state and federal requirements.
United Steelworkers, which represents employees at more than 200 refineries, went on strike Feb. 1. But that's not driving up prices, analysts say.
"That appears unlikely because BP is using replacement workers for those on strike," DeHaan said.