Video: Pump prices pressured

updated 3/15/2004 11:11:06 AM ET 2004-03-15T16:11:06

Prices for all grades of gasoline rose 1.34 cents in the last two weeks to a record high nationwide average of $1.77 a gallon, according to a study released Sunday.

Gas prices have jumped by nearly 26 cents so far this year, and while they won't be falling by that amount any time soon, they aren't expected to rise much higher, according to the Lundberg survey of 8,000 stations nationwide. The survey was conducted Friday.

The previous combined average record high was $1.76 in May 2001.

Analyst Trilby Lundberg said the latest spike reflects the rise in crude oil prices and an increase in refinery work to prepare for greater spring and summer gasoline demand.

OPEC declared earlier this year that it would reduce official oil production by April 1 and crack down on those countries exceeding the level.

"Where crude oil prices go next — whether they push or pull on gas prices — is OPEC's guess," she said.

Lundberg said work at the refineries is nearly complete.

"The pace of the pump price hike has slowed and prices are dropping on a spotty basis around the country," she said.

In California, prices remain higher than the rest of the country due to the state's strict environmental regulations and sales tax on gas pumps. Still, pump prices dropped nearly a penny in the last two weeks to $2.10 per gallon.

The national weighted average price of gasoline, including taxes, at self-serve pumps Friday was about $1.74 for regular, $1.84 for midgrade and $1.92 for premium.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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