Gas prices continue spike

Ten-plus cents more – that’s how much more you’re paying for gas than you were a week ago.

“Prices are changing so rapidly, and filling station attendants are switching the price signs so quickly that it is causing the heads of consumers to spin. They are bewildered, upset, and alarmed by the sheer rapidity and velocity of rising gasoline prices,” said Martha M. Meade, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s manager of public and government affairs.

The increase over the past week is the second largest one-week increase in gas prices since 1990. Across the nation, the price of a gallon of unleaded regular soared to $3.39, compared to $3.19 a week ago today. Week-over-week, that’s a 20-cent increase in the national retail price average.

It’s now $3.29 a gallon in the Commonwealth, compared to $3.18 a week ago.

Expect prices to increase even more, soon. The upheaval at the pumps is occurring just as demand is increasing and as refiners are jump-starting the switchover from blending winter gasoline blends to costlier summer gasoline blends, in advance of the summer driving season. That alone would cause pump prices to increase.

Why are prices escalating so rapidly? Motorists are now paying a “panic premium” for their fuel purchases, Meade said, with uncertainty over political unrest in the Middle East pushing the panic button. Potential unrest is brewing from Oman (which produces 900,000 barrels a day) to Algeria (with a daily output of 1.3 million barrels a day). The spreading turmoil and disintegration could have the most profound impact on the chain of standing dominoes: Iran and Saudi Arabia, some traders fear. With an output of 3.7 million barrels a day, Iran is OPEC’s second-largest oil producer and the fourth-largest crude oil exporter in the world. There’s even anxiety and hand-wringing about Saudi Arabia, the biggest domino of all, which boasts one-fifth of the world’s proven oil reserves, with 9 million barrels a day.

Edited by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at freepress2@ntelos.net.


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