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Gas-price average tops $2 per gallon

The average U.S. retail price of self-serve gasoline rose more than 5 cents in the past two weeks to more than $2 a gallon, the highest level since June, according to the Lundberg survey of 7,000 U.S. gas stations.
/ Source: Reuters

The average U.S. retail price of gasoline rose more than 5 cents in the past two weeks to more than $2 a gallon, its highest level since June, a leading industry analyst said Sunday.

The national average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was $2.0408 on Oct. 22, up 5.18 cents per gallon since Oct. 8, driven by record high crude oil prices, according to the twice-a-month Lundberg survey of 7,000 U.S. gas stations.

“Short term, it is very possible retail gas prices might rise a bit further,” but then would soon peak, survey editor Trilby Lundberg said in an interview.

The city with the highest average self-serve pump price was again San Diego at $2.45 per gallon, while the lowest average price was $1.83 per gallon, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

On June 11, the average gasoline price hit about $2.01.

December crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange settled 70 cents higher at $55.17 a barrel, a settlement record, pushing prices from the start of the year up 70 percent.

The contract reached a new intraday top of $55.50, the highest since the NYMEX began trading oil futures in 1983, amid worries of tight supplies for heating oil ahead of the winter. It traded as low as $54.70.

Gas prices out of step with crude
Retail gasoline has not kept pace with crude oil prices, Lundberg said. Since Sept. 10, when gasoline prices bottomed out and began rising again, gasoline prices have gone up about 18 cents per gallon, while crude oil has gone up an equivalent of 29 cents per gallon, Lundberg said.

“If the winter does not prove extra cold, and-or Gulf coast oil production recovery is combined with world production increases, then gasoline prices would cease rising and probably fall,” said Lundberg, based in Camarillo, Calif.

Oil production output in the Gulf of Mexico is still about one-quarter short of normal due to damage from Hurricane Ivan.

Crude oil prices should soften when repairs are completed and “winter 2004 not being extra cold would erode crude oil prices and help gas prices to stop rising,” Lundberg said.