Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Gas Prices Expected to Go Higher

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Gas Prices Expected to Go Higher

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Already at nearly $1.50 a gallon or more, gasoline prices are likely to jump another 20 cents by the end of May and soar even higher as the summer driving season takes hold, the government said Monday.

The oil exporting countries may boost production soon to ease the acute shortage that has seen crude prices climb to $32 a barrel, but the additional oil, even if pumped immediately, "would undoubtedly be too late" to keep gasoline prices from rising, according to a report released by the Energy Department.

No matter what production decisions are made, "retail gasoline prices are poised to surge to unprecedented levels before the spring is out," said the report.

It said U.S. gasoline stocks were "alarmingly low" and that the country was "moving into uncharted territory" as far as gasoline markets are concerned.

Despite the high prices, motorists are giving little sign that they are changing travel plans or rethinking their zeal for gas- guzzling cars and sport utility vehicles.

"We don't think it's going to cause people to stop taking long- distance driving vacations," said Geoff Sundstrom, spokesman for the American Automobile Association. "The economy is strong and people have the money to go on vacation."

But that may change if gasoline hits the psychological $2 barrier -- or if supplies become tight, leading to lines at filling stations, he said.

In its analysis, the Energy Department said that average gasoline prices, currently at about $1.46 a gallon, would increase as much as 20 cents by the beginning of summer and go to $1.80 a gallon during the peak summer driving periods.

The analysis cautioned that those are national averages and that prices could spike much higher in some parts of the country, including California, which historically has had higher prices, making $2-a-gallon regular gasoline a probability in some areas. …

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