Average U.S. gasoline price rises 10 cents a gallon

NEW YORK Sun Apr 12, 2009 4:36pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The average U.S. retail gasoline price rose about 10 cents a gallon over the past three weeks due to environmental costs linked to warmer weather, though the price was 40 percent lower than a year earlier, according to the Lundberg survey released on Sunday.

The average national price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was $2.048 a gallon on April 10, up 9.58 cents from March 20, according to the survey of gas stations.

The price was a whopping $1.27 below a year ago levels, when crude oil prices soared.

"The major cause of the rise of nearly a dime in three weeks is seasonal gasoline demand, not only because our consumption rises month by month, but because of the cost of environmental compliance," Survey editor Trilby Lundberg said in an interview.

As the weather warms, refiners are required to limit vapor pressure in order to avoid smog production. This adds to the cost per gallon, she said.

"It's already kicking in this month in some parts of the county," she said.

The cost of crude oil has remained fairly constant over the past three weeks, Lundberg said.

The lower gas prices could spur demand, which is likely to result in a rise in prices, but nowhere near the record $4.112 per gallon set on July 11, 2008, "unless there's a crude oil shock, and that does not seem likely either," she said.

The lowest price per gallon was in Newark, New Jersey, at $1.83, while Anchorage, Alaska, saw the highest at $2.40 per gallon. Los Angeles, the biggest U.S. market for gasoline, had an average price of $2.32 per gallon.

The nationwide Lundberg survey polls about 5,000 gas stations in U.S. metropolitan areas.

(Reporting by Ilaina Jonas; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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