Gas prices to skyrocket soon

Published 8:53 pm Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The price of gas is on the rise. -- Illustration

Get ready to see a rapid rise at the pumps.

If you purchased fuel for your vehicle Wednesday, you likely paid 10 cents more than the day before. Today, at some point, the price is expected to raise 10 or 15 cents.

“The speculators are driving the price,” said Gene Hisel, a local businessman who owns a Raceway station in Selma and a BP station in Valley Grande.

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Late Wednesday, Hisel said unleaded regular grade gasoline cost $3.12 at his Raceway and $3.15 at the BP. That reflected the $93 per barrel reported on Tuesday.

Wednesday’s prices likely will be seen at the pump today.

The other lowest price in Dallas County, according to www.automotive . com was the Shell at 602 Broad St., reporting $3.18 per gallon.

The lowest price of diesel was $2.999 per gallon at the BP, 3681 Ala. Hwy. 22 W

The AAA daily fuel gauge report for Alabama showed average prices in the state for regular unleaded had risen from Tuesday’s $3.052 to $3.076 on Wednesday. The highest recorded average price in the state reached $4.052 on Sept. 16, 2008.

The rise in gas prices comes as U.S. crude oil futures rose for a second day Wednesday, moving to $100 a barrel as speculators watched events unfold in Libya, as the oil-rich eastern portion of the country fell out of control of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. The fighting forced European oil companies to slow down operations and begin evacuating workers.

The unrest in the Middle East and Northern Africa resulted in oil prices soaring to a two-year high, which causes the gasoline prices to rise, even with Saudi Arabia saying OPEC would compensate for shortfalls caused by events in Libya.

Benchmark crude for April delivery closed at $98.10 a barrel in New York Mercantile Exchange after touching $100 per barrel shortly after noon, local time, according to Bloomberg’s Oil Buyers Guide. The $100 per barrel is the highest level since Oct. 2, 2008.

This began forcing up oil prices.

Here’s how the prices through speculation rise: Crude oil is the stuff that comes out of the ground. It’s not much use to anyone because it has to be refined to create the gasoline at the pump. Crude oil is a commodity, experts say, that means it’s a product that is about the same no mater who or what produces it.

Market experts tell us the prices of commodities are always rising and falling because they depend on worldwide supply and demand. Investors speculate on how much they think the price of oil will increase or decrease down the road. This affects how people think the price of oil should be and the amount petroleum companies will release into the market.

This speculation, Hisel said, has a lot to do with how much he and other gas station operators charge at the pump.

“Right now, they’re betting this oil is going to $110 a barrel,” Hisel said.

If that’s true, and if speculators keep driving up the price of crude oil, consumers could see pump prices this summer of $4.50 to $5 a gallon.

Hisel said the key is not to panic.

People should drive only when they have to and drive conservatively, he said.