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Gasoline prices high, may go higher

Record-setting gasoline prices nationwide are not expected todrop any time soon, and area distributors and convenience storeoperators say prices could climb higher.

“I have heard they are going to continue to go up, but mydistributor hasn’t really said,” said Sally Fuller, manager ofSuper Jack’s on Highway 84.

That may be because the local distributors are questioning whenthe gas prices will stabilize.

“I don’t really know. It just keeps going up right now,” saidScott Franklin, inventory control officer for R.B. Wall OilCompany.

The nationwide average on gasoline prices in the past two weeksis $1.80 per gallon for all grades, a new record high.

Prices in Brookhaven vary from $1.63 to $1.69 per gallon forregular unleaded. Gas is slightly cheaper in Monticello, wherestations are advertising $1.59 per gallon.

“It really makes it hard on the working man,” Fuller said. “Gasprices have gone up considerably in the past year, but mostpeople’s salaries haven’t.”

About a year ago, regular unleaded gasoline was at the pumps forjust over $1.20 a gallon, she said.

“I doubt we’ll ever see prices in the $1.20 range like we hadlast year again,” Fuller said.

She also doubts it will drop during the busy summer months, whendemand typically grows because of people taking familyvacations.

“I don’t see it coming down through the summer,” she said.

Franklin said it is not the local distributors setting theprices.

High prices hurt them, too. Only those who supply the crude oilto the refineries really benefit from high prices, he said.

Customer Donald Hux of Brookhaven said that was the problem.When the suppliers are also the producers, they control the marketby determining how much crude oil to produce.

Fuller said she has heard several reasons for the continuingincrease on gas prices. She cited complications from the war inIraq and other overseas activity as well as a sharp winter in thenorthern United States.

“I’m not sure of that, but I think it probably has to beaffecting it somehow,” she said. “Also, the bad winter up north hasraised prices because of a very high demand there for heatingfuel.”

San Diego has the highest gas prices in the country at $2.12 pergallon of regular unleaded. Los Angeles trails slightly, offeringgas to consumers at $2.10 per gallon, according to an AssociatedPress survey.