Leader Blues

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

TOP STORY >>Gas leaping to $3 mark nationwide

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

Federal energy officials are predicting gasoline prices to hit $3 a gallon nationally by summer. Five states are already averaging more than $3 for a gallon of unleaded and Arkansas is moving closer to that mark.

As of Friday, the average price nationally for a gallon of unleaded was $2.82, and in Arkansas it was $2.71—up about 30 cents from about a month ago.

Premium gasoline in Arkansas is selling for an average of $3.04 per gallon.

Mike Right, a spokesman for the American Automobile Association which daily surveys about 80,000 gas stations nationwide, said the rise is mostly based on demand. “We are using about three percent more gasoline than we did a year ago,” he said. At the same time inventories are low because many refineries are down for maintenance or switching over from winter blends to summer blends.

“The price will level off and start to drop once the supplies are built up and the demand goes down,” he said.
In the local area, most clerks when asked the cost of gasoline, prefaced their answers with “right now...”

The most quoted, and highest, price was $2.79 for a gallon of unleaded. The cheapest price Friday was at the Cabot Texaco on south Highway 367 at $2.65 a gallon. “We are going through three truckloads a day,” the clerk said.

The average in Jacksonville on Friday was $2.76, about six cents above the state average. Sherwood and Beebe were almost at $2.78 a gallon, and Cabot was $2.73.

Around the state, Fort Smith is the cheapest area, coming in at $2.69 per gallon of unleaded gasoline. The Little Rock-North Little Rock area is averaging $2.71, Pine Bluff is at $2.73, and Texarkana and northwest Arkansas are at $2.74.

The five states already averaging more than $3 a gallon for unleaded are led by California at $3.28, Washington at $3.05, Nevada at $3.03, Hawaii at $3.04 and Oregon at $3.02.

For the local information, 11 stations were surveyed in Jacksonville, nine each in Cabot and Sherwood and four in Beebe.