Gas price pumps up |

Gas price pumps up

Bradley Sinclair was busy enough Tuesday afternoon to give gas away – a little at a time, at least. With 11 cars at the pumps outside, customers lined up in the small convenience store to pay. Cashier Phil Hasley, a two-year “seasoned veteran,” moved customers though quickly, and didn’t have time to collect the small change from customers.”Let me give you the 18 cents today, ma’am,” he told one woman, who fumbled for correct change when it was her turn to pay. From the crowd, you’d never know gas prices reached an all-time high here yesterday. The price of regular unleaded reached $2.26 per gallon, a new record, according to AAA. On Tuesday, customers paid five cents more than they did Monday, 23 cents more than they did a month ago, and 37 cents more than they did a year ago, according to AAA’s Web site. Gasoline prices generally rise in the spring. Oil refineries switch from producing a winter blend of gasoline to a more environmentally friendly summer blend, which causes a drop in production and spike in prices, said AAA spokesman Justin McNaull. But this particular spike is too early to be from the seasonal switch, he said. A more likely cause is commodities traders working in a jittery market. Traders are worried about the oil industry from Venezuela to Norway, increased demand from China and a supply that isn’t likely to increase, McNaull said. He said trader nervousness has driven the price of crude oil to record highs – $54 per barrel Tuesday.Prices at the pump lag behind the crude oil price, which means prices are likely to rise even more, he said. “I was told it’d go up to the $3 mark before summer,” said Debbie Guccini, the manager and bookkeeper at Glenwood Carwash Conoco. High gas prices sometimes make Glenwood Springs’ tourist-based businesses nervous. Not to worry, McNaull said. “We haven’t really found high gas prices have much effect on people’s tendency to take driving vacations,” he said. People might take shorter trips, but they generally won’t cancel a trip they’ve planned and looked forward to over gas prices, McNaull said. The gas price difference compared with the overall trip is too small to deter travelers, he said. For example, a 1,000-mile trip at Tuesday’s prices, in a car averaging 20 miles per gallon, would cost $113. The same trip in the same car a year ago would have cost $94.70. A family on a summer vacation could make up the difference by skipping ice cream one night of the trip, McNaull said. Those numbers don’t do much to comfort consumers, however. Ida Burnaman of Carbondale filled up her Subaru on Monday after a week in Seattle. She said she was surprised and disappointed to see how much prices had gone up. Most customers said they didn’t curb their driving habits to save money. High prices irritate Scott Straus, a senior at Glenwood Springs High School. For him, it’s pretty simple: “I just gotta get around.”Contact Ryan Graff: 945-8515, ext.

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