Gas Prices Reach Record Highs for February

While many drivers are already grumbling at gas prices this winter, experts say that by this summer, Friday’s AAA average of $3.58 a gallon for regular gasoline may look downright attractive.

Some energy analysts think gasoline on a national basis could climb into the $4.50 a gallon range. That would be above the all-time peak of $4.11 a gallon set on July 14, 2008. In some states such as California, Hawaii, and Alaska, prices are normally higher and could get closer to $5 a gallon.

“You’re going to see a lot more staycations this year,” says Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research. “When the price gets anywhere near $4, you really see people react.”

Already, W. Howard Coudle, a retired machinist from Crestwood, Mo., has seen his monthly gasoline bill rise to $80 from about $60 in December. The closest service station is selling regular for $3.39 per gallon, the highest he’s ever seen.

“I guess we’re going to have to drive less, consolidate all our errands into one trip,” Coudle told CBS News. “It’s just oppressive.”

The surge in gas prices follows an increase in the price of oil.

CS Monitor reports that during the past two weeks, the price of crude oil on the international markets has risen by $7 a barrel to about $120 a barrel, in large part because of tensions with Iran, a cold snap in Europe and rising demand from developing nations

Analysts point out that every $1 rise in the price of oil ultimately results in an increase of 2.4 cents a gallon at the pump if the price stays up.

The national average for gasoline began the year at $3.28 a gallon. The average price for February so far is $3.49 a gallon. That’s up from $3.17 a gallon last February, a record at the time. Back in 2007, before the recession hit, the average for February was $2.25 a gallon.

Prices are higher on the East and West Coasts, where gasoline has risen above $3.70 in Connecticut, New York, Washington D.C. and California. This isn’t unusual — states on the coasts charge some of the nation’s highest gas taxes.

What are current gas prices in your neck of the woods? How has the rising cost at the pump affected the way you do life?

via Chicago Tribune