Bad news for consumers: New Jersey's gasoline prices have finally stopped dropping.  

Gas prices hit below $2 (Scott Olson, Getty Images)

"The lowest price that we're seeing is occurring right now or slightly behind us," said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at Gasbuddy.com.

The state's bottom came on Jan. 26 at about $1.90 a gallon.  Nationally, prices stopped dropping at $2.04 a gallon on Jan. 27, according to AAA.

The last time gas prices saw an uptick was on Nov. 25, when New Jersey's average price per gallon was at about $2.71.

So, why have gas prices started to rise again?

DeHaan said wholesale gas prices are beginning to rise because many refineries with mounting gasoline inventories are reducing their output. He said consumers will see slight crude oil price increases, or even price drops on world markets and might wonder why pump prices have stopped going down. But those higher gasoline prices at the wholesale level are what is determining the current pricing atmosphere.

"Oil prices have disconnected. They've been going down, as wholesale gas prices have been going up," DeHaan said.

One of the things that consumers will notice now that gas prices have started to rise is the lack of widely divergent prices from gas station to gas station.

"This is the time when we start to see the gap between stations come back together. When prices are on their way down, prices at the retail level are very scattered. But when we start to see pump prices averaging up, that is when we tend to see stations bunching together," DeHaan said.

And less choice means consumers will have less of an opportunity to shop around for cheaper gas.

Once spring hits, gasoline prices are expected to rise between 30 to 60 cents per gallon, according to DeHaan.

 

Lowest Gas Prices in New Jersey
New Jersey Gas Prices provided by GasBuddy.com