BRANCH COUNTY — Gas prices have jumped as much as 50 cents per gallon in Branch County since last week, up to $1.89 a gallon on Friday.

Prices likely will go higher.

"As restrictions are lifted and businesses begin to reopen, gas demand is likely to continue increasing and pump prices are likely to slow their decline and increase, too," said Adrienne Woodland, spokesperson for AAA.

Marathon stations in the area, such as in Quincy, saw prices drop to $1.12 a gallon for a short time. With crude at $10 per barrel two weeks ago, it has rebounded to over $20 per barrel but nothing like the $70 price late last year.  

Marathon Petroleum, the largest U.S. refiner, said in its first quarter of 2020 corporate  statement this week, it cut capital spending, temporarily idled two refineries and reduced run rates at its other facilities. That cut back the supply of gas, as the business continues to monitor market conditions with the coronavirus pandemic. 

During April, records showed driving was down substantially in Michigan after the governor’s first stay-at-home executive order.

With more people beginning to drive more again, it will help in one way: State revenue for roads will rise. Jay Miller, manager of Branch County Road Commission, said the motor transportation fund paid to counties “will take a hit in April. I expect we will see that reflected when we get our payments in June.” 

There is more traffic now, so Miller does not see a reduction in its share of gas taxes, he said.

“It’s almost like last year at $6.8 million,” Miller told his board. “I don’t think it will be lower, but very close to what we received last year. Which is workable.”

The state made its estimate April 29 for the full year after the COVID-19 restrictions had taken place at the $6.8 million. 

Revenue is based on gallons sold, not the sale price. The state motor fuel tax is almost 19 cents per gallon on gasoline and 15 cents per gallon on diesel fuel. About half of the gasoline taxes goes to schools and local governments.