The price of regular-grade gasoline in Lexington on Thursday approached a mark it has not reached in a while: $4 a gallon.
Prices in Fayette County on Thursday topped out at $3.95 in Lexington, according to the fuel tracking Web site Gasbuddy.com. The low end of the range was $3.84.
Statewide, the average Thursday was $3.852 for regular, $3.959 for mid-grade and $4.069 for premium, according to AAA's Fuelgaugereport.com. Nationally, Hawaii had the highest average price for regular gas Thursday: $4.316.
Christopher Oakford, spokesman for AAA of the Bluegrass, said the increase stems from two issues: the lingering of Hurricane Isaac and the demand of gas that tends to surrround a holiday, such as Labor Day.
"The longer the hurricane lingers in the Gulf, the longer the oil rigs are not going to be working," he said. "If the storm passes in the next day, things can resume to normal. Things can get back to normal very quickly. Prices will begin to decline."
When there's a threat such as a hurricane, Oakford said, leaders shut down oil rigs as a precaution.
Not all of them shutter, but "given that 40 percent of America's gas is refined in that region, any shutdown will have an impact on supply. It's a very quick point between being a threat to supply and rises at the pump."
He said the advice AAA always gives motorists is: Keep your eye on the long term because the price of gas has risen because of this one particular problem. "Secondly, you should always shop around and find where gas is being sold cheapest," he said.
Oakford dispelled a myth about shopping around for fuel.
"People of old age think there is 'cheap gas.' That's no longer the case," he said. "Find the cheapest gas, and that's absolutely where you should buy it."
Keep Kentucky's prices in perspective, though.
For all the complaints about gasoline prices, Americans spent 63 percent less at the pump in July than Norwegians did on a gallon of the fuel.
The United States ranked 49th of 60 countries, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, with premium gasoline at $3.75 a gallon on July 23, compared with $10.12 in top-ranked Norway. The U.S. price was behind Japan, China and India, a country where people made 2.9 percent of what Americans earn.