Gas prices on the rise ahead of summer season

Published 4:33 pm Monday, March 8, 2004

By By Arthur McLean, Editor
Most travelers know you can expect to pay higher prices at the pump during the summer vacation drive season, but this year, gas price increases are getting an early start.
Prices around Atmore have risen about three cents in the past week, mirroring a nationwide increase in the price of gas at the pump.
Some states are already nearing their record prices for gas, and according to local gas retailers, Atmore is nearing its record high as well.
"It's been on a steady trend up for a while now," said Tommy White, whose family owns the Diamond Oil convenience stores. "It's going up much faster than retail products."
White said gas prices in the area are either at or near their all-time highs.
The average price for a gallon of regular at the pump around the Atmore area was $1.62 on Friday.
Drivers in the area said they've noticed the price increase, but take the price changes in stride.
For most convenience stores, gas is not a profit center, owners said, and gas stations usually watch each other's prices very closely.
"You usually won't see anyone raise their prices until they're pretty sure someone else is going to do it as well," White said.
While most gas stations don't immediately pass on every fluctuation in gas prices to the customer, eventually, the price at the pump reflects the stations are paying for gas from the oil companies, he said.
At $1.62 per gallon, Atmore is roughly in the same price range as other part of south Alabama.
Some stations in Saraland have posted prices of $1.69 per gallon, which is close to the nationwide average of $1.705 per gallon, just three cents short of a record price set Aug. 30, according to the AAA.
Experts say gas prices could continue to increase for the next several weeks, as fears of crude oil shortages loom. Part of the fear stems from a shipping accident in the mouth of the Mississippi River which blocked shipping traffic for several days.
U.S. Secretary of Energy, Spencer Abraham, said the White House is "extremely concerned" about the price of gasoline, but proposed no action.

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