Local News

Gas Prices Spike Again As Experts Warn It Will Get Worse

Posted March 17, 2006

— AAA says the average Triangle gas price went up 7 cents from Thursday to Friday. The rocketing price launches some strong opinions at the pump.

"There's no reason for it," said driver Laverne Durham. "I mean, somebody's pockets are getting filled."

Economists say there are reasons for the higher prices. More people drive in the spring and summer. With demand up, that puts more pressure on supply. A 150,000 barrel-a-day refinery in the Virgin Islands is down for repairs. Also, many refineries have slowed production as they perform yearly maintenance.


There's even more price pressure at the pump in our area. The Environmental Protection Agency forces southeastern states, including North Carolina, to use a different blend to reduce ozone during the spring and summer. It costs more to refine, and it costs you more at the pump.

However, that cleaner burning gas doesn't have to be at the pump until June 1. So basically, drivers are paying for the cleaner burning fuel now before it's burned.

"It's probably not going down anytime soon," said N.C. State economist Mike Walden.

And drivers will continue to pay for it all summer. Economists can explain it, but with record oil company profits coupled with a meteoric rise in prices, it just doesn't add up for people at the pump.

"I think somebody is gouging us and ripping us off, because it's just not stable," said one driver.

Whether it's supply and demand, environmental concerns or the cost of refining gas, the explanation for rising fuel costs doesn't add up to most drivers. They see it as the tank is always half-full for oil companies, and half-empty to them.

Gas prices are also hitting farmers hard, and that could cost you even more. Headed into the growing season, farmers are facing extremely high fuel and fertilizer costs.

Experts urge growers to take steps to reduce the impact on production. They suggest less tilling, better maintenance of tractors and other equipment, and using alternative fertilizer, if possible.

Compared to neighboring states, North Carolinians are paying more at the pump. The average price in South Carolina is $2.32 a gallon. In Virginia, it's $2.36. Both prices are for regular unleaded gas.


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