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Gas prices continue to rise in North Carolina

Posted October 15, 2021 2:47 p.m. EDT
Updated October 15, 2021 7:59 p.m. EDT

— Gas prices are something we love to hate, but what makes this spike different is that we typically see prices fall this time of year.

That's because the summer driving season is over, and oil companies switch to the cheaper winter blend, but as with so much of life, COVID-19 remains in the driver's seat.

The reasons gas prices bubble up are as varied as the cars on the road, but it all boils down to supply and demand.

The supply is still running on "E" after COVID-19 hit the brakes on travel, yet demand is filling up.

"We can only blame ourselves for this," said Natashia Castro, a local driver.

Policies, politics, and OPEC are also to blame. The oil cartel voted recently not to produce more crude oil, which would have reined in prices.

"Perhaps OPEC is reluctant to raise production given the fact that this white house, this administration, is a bit more hostile toward the oil sector," said Patrick De Haan, a petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.

President Biden is promoting electric cars and aiming to wean the economy off fossil fuels. De Haan says that's also why the US's oil producers have been slow to ratchet up their supply.

But Tiffany Wright, with AAA of the Carolinas, says the fear of more COVID-19 disruptions as winter approaches looms large for oil producers.

"They don't want to see what happened last year when we had an oversupply in the marketplace: so we had an oversupply and less demand. Right now, what we're seeing is that demand is out-pacing supply," said Wright

Bottom line: The cost of crude, now at around 80 dollars a barrel, is driving the cost at the pump. A natural gas and coal shortage in Europe and China is also to blame for a spike in oil costs.

And Caleb Flores is feeling the pain.

"Yeah, it makes it tough, especially if you drive a lot for work. I'm in construction. I drive all over the triangle. I was driving from Youngsville to Sanford today. I was filling up the gas tank, man," said Flores

AAA says it is likely the cost will go up a few more cents in the coming weeks.

As for how long the $3 plus prices will hang around, that's anyone's guess.

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