Columbus gasoline prices spiked yesterday, as central Ohio saw one of the largest one-day shifts in the country. The average price in central Ohio for regular unleaded was $2.26 yesterday, up from $2.04 on Tuesday, according to GasBuddy.com.

February 5, 2015

Columbus gasoline prices spiked yesterday, as central Ohio saw one of the largest one-day shifts in the country.

The average price in central Ohio for regular unleaded was $2.26 yesterday, up from $2.04 on Tuesday, according to GasBuddy.com.

The increase of 22 cents was the seventh-largest in the country, the website said.

The national increase in average price was 5 cents.

Check out the lowest gas prices in central Ohio

Although the size of the one-day swing was notable in many markets, energy analysts were not surprised to see the jump.

"Retail prices are rising as they always do in the first quarter, for the same reasons year-in and year-out: Refinery outputs are reduced during a transition process necessitated by (U.S.) EPA mandates," Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy, said in a statement.

"A maintenance period begins between the time that winter fuel is depleted and before the cleaner-burning, more expensive 'summer blend' gasoline production can begin. Much, but not all of that maintenance, is scheduled in advance."

Ohio gasoline prices tend to be some of the most volatile in the country, which might be attributable in part to fierce competition between a few large retail chains.

That and normal seasonal factors are helping to intensify a price trend that would probably exist anyway, said Kimberly Schwind, a spokeswoman for AAA Ohio Auto Club.

"It's not uncommon to start to see prices rise at this time of year," she said.

Central Ohio's average price dropped below $2 for the first time in years on Dec. 27, and then dropped to a low of $1.81 on Jan. 6.

Schwind wonders whether this is a short-term increase or a signal of the start of a sustained rebound in prices.

"That's really the question everyone seems to be asking, and nobody seems to know," she said.

dgearino@dispatch.com

@DanGearino