As Gas Prices Soar, Triangle Motorists Dig Deeper Into Their Pockets

Posted April 18, 2006 9:46 a.m. EDT

— Motorists in the Triangle are paying 32 cents more for a gallon of gas than they did just one month ago, and oil industry analysts say the price is still on the rise.

  • Soaring worldwide demand, unrest in oil producing nations, and the skyrocketing price of crude oil are all to blame.

    Nationwide, prices jumped 10 cents last week to an average price of $2.78 for a gallon of regular unleaded -- the highest ever in advance of the peak summer-driving season. That is nearly 55 cents higher than a year ago.

    AAA of the Carolinas reports that the Triangle's average price is $2.83 -- 60 cents higher than a year ago.

    "It's bugging me more and more because I have a smaller car, and it seems like when I first got it, it cost like $12 dollars to put gas in my car," said motorist Lakish James. "Now, it's like $20, $22, $23 now. I'm like, 'Even having a smaller car is not convenient."

    The barrel price for crude oil is now higher than it was after Hurricane Katrina in early September 2005, but it still has caused very little change in demand. The next question for drivers may be what price will drive people away from the pumps?

    "Everybody's going to pay for it until it gets up to $4 or $5 a gallon," said driver J. D. White. "There's really nothing anybody can do."

    Strong demand and worries about the nuclear program in Iran, which is the world's second largest oil producer, have driven prices to record levels. Rising gas prices are still not stopping drivers from hitting the road, but drivers do have some power to control the price.

    "If folks can just cut back their driving a bit, it sends a signal to the marketplace that if demand is even somewhat weak, prices will go lower," said energy analyst John Kilduff.

    But for a nation that consumes 400 million gallons of gas each day, that may be easier said than done.