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Gas Prices Jump 7 Cents Ahead of Thanksgiving

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2013-11_e6456245f8.jpgFuse/Thinkstock (WASHINGTON) -- If you're hitting the road this week to visit loved ones for Thanksgiving, you may notice higher prices at the pump. According to the Energy Department's latest figures, the average price of regular unleaded gas has jumped 7 cents nationwide in the past week to $3.29 a gallon.

Drivers in the lower Atlantic and Gulf Coast regions are taking an even bigger hit to their wallets, as gas prices there have climbed 14 cents a gallon. But those in New York face the highest costs, with regular unleaded now at an average of $3.57 per gallon.

Elsewhere in the U.S., prices are still dropping in the Rocky Mountains and along the West Coast.

So why are gas prices rising all of a sudden?  There appears to be three main factors at play.

First, U.S. gasoline exports are up. Compared to a few years ago when one million barrels a day were being shipped out of the states, the U.S. is now exporting around three million barrels daily.  While that means big money for gas companies, it also means there's a smaller supply at home.

Second, there have been some refinery issues -- like a fire at a Mississippi refinery a week and a half ago, which helped drive up prices in the region.

"Combined with some refinery incidents that happened in the Gulf Coast, the Gulf region saw prices spike, as well as the Great Lakes, we've seen a lot of those low prices vaporize for the time being," GasBuddy.com senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan tells ABC News Radio.

Uncertainty last week about a nuclear deal with Iran also contributed to higher prices at the pump.  

But "now, over the weekend with Iran agreeing with the West, it may open up the door for some reduction in sanctions.  That could actually push gas prices lower," says DeHaan.

"For motorists hitting the road this weekend, prices will be on their way up in some communities but by next week or say in the next two weeks, we should see that agreement with Iran start to cause oil prices to drop back off," he points out.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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