Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

No Quick Relief for State Drivers EPA Actions Fail to Slow Surging Gasoline Prices

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

No Quick Relief for State Drivers EPA Actions Fail to Slow Surging Gasoline Prices

Article excerpt

An attempt by regulators to ease price spikes at Midwest gas pumps didn't make driving any cheaper Wednesday in Oklahoma.

Prices jumped 7 cents from Tuesday, leaving state motorists paying an average $1.63 a gallon. Fill-ups continued to cost even more in urban areas, with prices averaging $1.68 in Tulsa and $1.66 in Oklahoma City, AAA Oklahoma spokesman Chuck Mai said.

Midwest prices may go up before they go down, said Fred Rozell, retail pricing director of Oil Price Information Service, a Lakewood, N.J., publisher of oil industry data. He expects to see prices fall after September.

"The supply situation is dire at this point," he said. "And retailers need to get their margins back."

The Environmental Protection Agency agreed Tuesday to temporarily relax air-quality standards for gas sold by Citgo Petroleum in Chicago and Milwaukee. Prices have soared with short supplies since an Aug. 14 fire shutdown the Tulsa-based company's Lemont, Ill., refinery.

But gas supplies into Oklahoma showed no signs of loosening Wednesday as a result, said QuikTrip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh. Supplies have been redirected north to meet the demand in Chicago and Milwaukee.

"We certainly have not seen any relief," he said. "Supply that comes from the Gulf Coast is not stopping here. It's going up to supply those markets as well."

The EPA action allows Citgo a 19-day jump on selling a winter grade of gasoline, which meets less stringent environmental requirements.

The company began selling the lower-grade gasoline from storage immediately after the EPA's decision, said Citgo spokesman Kent Young.

The Lemont refinery produced 163,000 barrels of oil per day. It supplied a region that included Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Nebraska and parts of Iowa.

"Anytime you take that much out of the market, it tightens up supply," he said.

Supplies also are tighter this time of year because refineries are gearing up for the changeover to the winter grade of gas on Sept. …

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