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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

4 dollars a gallon for gas coming soon

According to the experts, it's just a matter of time until the gas prices will hit 4 dollars a gallon and people in the Northeast will be hit first.

From CNN Money
Consumers can expect retail gas prices to rise to $4 a gallon soon but whether they stay there depends on the long-term damage to oil facilities from Hurricane Katrina, oil and gas analysts said Wednesday.

"There's no question gas will hit $4 a gallon," Ben Brockwell, director of pricing at the Oil Price Information Service, said. "The question is how high will it go and how long will it last?"

OPIS tracks wholesale and retail oil prices and provides pricing information for AAA's daily reports on fuel prices.

Brockwell said with gasoline prices now exceeding $3 a gallon before even reaching the wholesale level, it "doesn't take a genius" to expect retail prices to hit $4 a gallon soon.

"Consumers haven't seen the worst of it yet," Brockwell said.

He expects consumers in the Southeast and Northeast to be pinched first, following the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast region.

Katrina forced operators to close more than a tenth of the country's refining capacity and a quarter of its oil production, which sent gasoline prices surging.

"With this kind of hiccup in refinery capacity, in stretched markets like California, you could see over $4 a gallon in gas," Evan Smith, an analyst at U.S. Global Investors, told CNN/Money.

While it's still too early to fully assess the damage caused by Katrina, efforts to build up inventories of crude oil, natural gas and other products like gasoline will be set back by the storm, according to Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at Global Insight.

In a research note, Behravesh laid out a worst-case scenario that puts average prices for regular unleaded gasoline at about $3.50 a gallon for the next four to six months.

"The impact on consumer spending in such a scenario would be very dramatic, cutting the growth rate by as much as 3 percent and pushing real GDP growth in the fourth quarter closer to zero," he wrote.
Thank goodness I can ride my bicycle to work...