Gas prices take summer hike

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Al Key/DRC
Gas prices at the Race Trac on W. University Drive near I35 Monday evening July 22, 2013, in Denton.

Patti Colavito said she no longer fills the fuel tank on her minivan. She buys about $15 worth of gasoline at a time, so considering current gas prices, she isn’t likely to travel far.

“If I am going somewhere, I try to make sure I do everything I need to do in that area,” she said.

Like Colavito, Lamar Brown said this week that he just does not travel much because of high gas prices.

“I have been feeling the pinch for quite a while,” he said.

AAA Texas reported last week that gas prices went up by 15 cents from the previous week and that consumers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area were paying the most for gas — an average of $3.60. Last week’s price increase was the largest seen in one week since February, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Experts say the usual summer demand for fuel as well as the political unrest in Egypt — which concerns investors because of the close proximity of oil-producing nations — are two of the reasons gas prices have increased in the past couple of months.

Michael McPherson, associate professor of economics at the University of North Texas, said gas prices typically tend to increase each summer.

“They always jump in the summertime when people go on vacation,” he said. “Demand goes up. But we are at the halfway point, and that will end shortly.”

Denton Cinquegrana, a spokesman for the Oil Price Information Service, a company that tracks energy prices, said another reason for the retail increase is the price of crude oil, which has remained high since the end of the second quarter.

“Crude oil prices are up close to $10 a barrel, and that is a reason why we have seen retail gasoline prices move up as quickly as we have over the last week or two,” he said.

As of Wednesday, West Texas intermediate crude traded at $105.39 per barrel and North Sea European crude settled at $107.19, Cinquegrana said.

Last week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that crude runs at domestic refineries had increased steadily since early March to reach some of the highest levels on record. At 16.1 million barrels per day for the week ending July 5, crude oil runs were the highest for any week since 2007, the EIA reported.

Doug Shupe, a spokesman for AAA Texas and AAA New Mexico, said that since there are still a few weeks left for summer travel, the best thing that drivers can do is plan. He advised consumers to carpool with friends or family if they needed to go somewhere and to avoid congested areas during peak hours.

For those traveling long distances, Shupe said AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner can help drivers plan their trip and get a rough estimate on fuel costs based on actual prices.

On Monday, the EIA reported the national average price of regular gasoline rose another 4.5 cents to $3.684 per gallon. On Wednesday, the price of unleaded gas at many Denton stations was $3.57, according to the user-reported website gasbuddy.com. The cheapest price in the area was reported to be $3.56 at the 7-Eleven located at Teasley Lane and Robinson Road, according to the website.

KARINA RAMÍREZ can be reached at 940-566-6878 and via Twitter at @KarinaFRamirez.

 


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