Gas prices are soaring in North America, and there could be more pain at the pumps this summer if the trend continues.

In Canada, the average price of gas stood at $1.30 per litre on Wednesday – seven cents higher than the average price this time last year, according to

Some analysts have predicted that a litre of gas could cost as much as $1.50 in some parts of Canada by the summer.

Across the United States, fuel prices are reaching all-time highs. The nationwide average hovered at around $3.90 per gallon. In the Chicago area, the price jumped to a record $4.60 per gallon.

While analysts point to the rising price of crude oil, problems in the Arab world and closing oil refineries as sources fueling the rise at the pumps,

Western sanctions imposed on Iran, the world's third-largest oil exporter, are also contributing to market fluctuations. The international community is trying to force Iran to abandon its nuclear program with an oil embargo, which experts say has added about $15 to $17 per barrel to the price of oil.

In some Canadian cities, however, gas price increases have nothing to do with the market.

In Toronto, for example, a five-cent jump to $1.36 per litre was expected at midnight Thursday.

Global oil prices actually dropped on Wednesday, so the hike is "entirely the decision of a handful of oil companies in the Toronto area to drive prices up," Dan McTeague of Tomorrow's Gas Price Today told CTV Toronto.

"The increase has everything to do with profit-making, to say the least," he said.

There may be some relief on the horizon as oil prices dipped Wednesday amid suggestions that Western nations may be releasing their oil reserves onto the world market.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.93 to $105.40 per barrel in New York while Brent crude lost $1.67 to $123.87 per barrel in London.

Last week, U.S. oil supplies surged by twice the amount analysts predicted, according to government data released Wednesday.

At the same time, French officials said Europe is thinking of supplying markets with more oil from emergency reserves in hopes of lowering gas prices.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Colin D'Mello and files from the Associated Press