(NEXSTAR) – Prices at the pump are trending upward right now because the cost per barrel of crude oil is going up and is currently sitting around $57 per barrel.

The national average price of gasoline has increased 3.7 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $2.47/gallon on Wednesday. The national average is up 13.2 cents per gallon from a month ago and stands 1.6 cents per gallon higher than a year ago.

According to Gas Buddy, the average price for a gallon of gas in Rockford is $2.64. Drivers in our area are paying nearly 50 cents more per gallon than they were just two months ago.

via Gas Buddy

“Many factors continue to push oil prices higher, but at the foundation of the rise is the fact that the coronavirus situation continues to improve, pushing global oil demand higher as production continues to lag, pushing U.S. gas prices higher,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.

“Until OPEC intercedes and raises oil production in the months ahead, motorists should continue to expect rising gas prices, which for the first time some time stand at their highest in over a year, adding misery to the dire economic situation as millions remain jobless.

The news won’t likely improve in the months ahead, with continued increases in gas prices as OPEC maintains a tight balance between reduced demand and supply, keeping prices on the higher side,” De Haan added.

“It’s increasing on market speculation about a vaccine rolling out and on the back of OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) deciding to keep production cuts unchanged, which is a decision influenced by the pandemic and its effect on gasoline demand, crude oil demand,” said Jim Garrity, of AAA.

AAA has a county-by-county chart on gas prices in Illinois.

Garrity said vaccines create a sense of optimism and that optimism translates into more people traveling, driving, flying and going on cruises. That, in turn, creates a higher demand for crude oil to power cars, planes and boats.

“Crude oil demand has been so low during the pandemic,” Garrity said. “There was a point when oil prices dipped below zero dollars a barrel.”

Now the demand is going back up, and oil prices are returning to what they were around this time last year, according to Garrity. For comparison, last summer, it was around $30 to $40 a barrel.

“I think people have gotten used to gasoline prices when they go to fill up being 25 to 50 cents cheaper than they were the previous year. We’re starting to tighten that gap again, though,” Garrity said.