RALEIGH, N.C. — Driver Tom Smith has seen gas prices climb from $2.13 a gallon last week to $2.35 Thursday and $2.45 Friday.
Industry experts say he and other area drivers can expect the price to soar even higher this summer.
“Unfortunately for drivers, I’m just going to say it, we’ll probably see $3 a gallon or more during the summer," economist Mike Walden said. "It’s just the way things are.”
Colder weather and increased worldwide demand are depleting supplies and driving up costs, experts say. If world tensions don’t boil over, if the weather stays relatively calm and if demand levels off, prices could stabilize.
But experts warn not to be too optimistic.
Prices are also expected to increase in a few months when gas stations begin selling pollution-reducing fuel to meet EPA regulations.
“And there is a cost associated with that,” said Bill Weatherspoon with the North Carolina Petroleum Council. “As we get into that warmer driving season and get into the month of May, we’re going to see environmentally cleaner gasoline available, and it costs a bit more.”
Driving less and shopping around are options, but drivers probably won’t see prices fall, experts say.
As for Smith, he knows he’s not alone in his quest for cheaper gas.
“That’s putting a crunch on everybody right now,” he said.
The highest gas price ever seen in the Triangle was $3.18, which came shortly after Hurricane Katrina.