Pain at the pump

Published 10:43 am Tuesday, February 21, 2012

If industry experts are correct, gas prices at the pump will top $4 per gallon, on average, by the summer.

Some are saying the national average for a gallon of petro will reach $5.

In the meantime, motorists in the local Roanoke-Chowan along with those nationally have seen pump prices climb for the 13th consecutive week dating back to December.

Average retail gasoline prices statewide have risen 3.9 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.64 on Sunday, Feb. 19. This compares with the national average that has increased 4.5 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.51, according to gasoline price website

Including the change in gas prices in North Carolina during the past week, prices on Sunday were 50.7 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 20.4 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 17.1 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 35.0 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

“Gasoline prices have perked up a bit in the last week,” said Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. “As we continue to move towards warmer weather, gasoline prices will follow, with prices accelerating higher at a faster pace come late March into April, so if motorists think this is bad, they should really hold on to their chairs.

DeHaan’s weekly analysis came prior to Monday’s news that Iran had cut oil exports to Britain and France. That news may have prompted a noticeable jump at the pump on Monday where, in Ahoskie, stations increased the price by eight cents per gallon (from $3.66 to $3.74).

According to a report on the CNN website, Iran’s oil ministry said Sunday that it would stop exporting oil to French and British companies. The announcement came just days after Iran threatened to cut supplies to some European Union countries in retaliation for sanctions put in place by the EU and United States.

U.S. crude for April delivery jumped nearly 2 percent to $105.08 per barrel. Brent crude, Europe’s benchmark, rose about 0.5 percent to $120.18 per barrel.

The CNN report said that prices for Brent haven’t been above $120 for more than a year, and that could prove worrisome for U.S. drivers since many U.S. refineries use imported oil to produce gas, especially on the East Coast.

Prices are already up nearly 9 percent from the start of the year.

GasBuddy operates and over 250 similar websites that track gasoline prices at over 140,000 gasoline stations in the United States and Canada. In addition, GasBuddy offers a free smartphone app which has been downloaded over 20 million times to help motorists find gasoline prices in their area.