Gas prices are 40 cents higher than they were a year ago, and analysts say motorists will soon pay even more at the pump.

The average gas price in York County was $3.71 per gallon on Friday afternoon, compared to $3.31 on the same day a year ago.

Continued unrest in Iraq has put upward pressure on crude oil markets, driving the wholesale price to $107 a barrel last week.

That translates to an extra 5 cents to 13 cents per gallon, depending on the buyer, and consumers can expect to absorb every penny of the increase, according to Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.

"Prices won't come down until we see some clear resolution in Iraq and suppliers know the oil reserves and infrastructure in the Middle East are not threatened," he said.

Unhappy consumers: That's unwelcome news for local residents who were hoping for lower gas prices around the Fourth of July.

"We go to the beach every year for the holiday, and I know last year we didn't spend more than $3.50 a gallon. I hate seeing the higher prices," said Brenda Spitz, a 62-year-old West Manchester Township resident.

While the higher prices aren't enough to keep her home, they do affect her budget.

"It makes you think twice about eating out so many times while you're away or buying souvenirs," she said.

For Joann Hester, it means more picnic lunches.

The 58-year-old West York resident is traveling to see family in Seaside, N.J., on Monday and will be away for two weeks.


She'll offset the higher price of gas by eating in or having lunch on the beach with her grandchildren, she said.

"I guess you're never too old for peanut butter and jelly. In this economy, you can't be," Hester said.

It's not that the higher gas prices are making people lose their homes, but it can feel like a hardship with no relief in sight, said John Bielek, a 64-year-old York City resident.

"When you're on a (fixed) income, it can worry you how high prices are going to get. It's not just the gas that's high. It's the food and (utility bills) too," he said.

The future: How high prices will go and how long they will remain high is unclear.

The record high in York County was logged in April 2012 when the average price reached $3.99 per gallon.

Analysts expected prices to be lower by now. When prices peaked at $3.70 per gallon in April, that was expected to be the high for the year.

"Gas prices often decline in June with the national average falling the previous three years at an average of about 20 cents per gallon. The recent turmoil in Iraq is likely to prevent that trend from repeating this year," said Michael Green, spokesman for AAA.

The good news is the U.S. has the highest domestic oil production since 1986, Laskoski said.

"With domestic production booming, we're less reliant on imports," he said.

Because the world's largest consumer of gas is taking more control domestically, it softens the blow of higher prices, Laskoski said.

"If this was happening five years ago, crude oil would be spiking much higher than $107 a barrel," he said.

How long it will spike is the question.

"As long as there's conflict in the Middle East, there will be price increases," said Bob Astor, spokesman for York-based Shipley Energy.

— Reach Candy Woodall at