July 11, 2005

Gasoline Price Hits Record $2.33 Per Gallon

WASHINGTON -- The average price U.S. drivers pay for gasoline jumped 4.6 percent, or 10.2 cents, over the last week to a new record of $2.33 a gallon, reflecting higher crude oil costs, the government said on Monday.

The 10.2 cent rise was one of the biggest changes in weekly gasoline costs ever recorded by the government. The old record pump price of $2.28 a gallon was set in mid-April, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The new record price is up 41 cents from a year ago, based on the EIA's weekly survey of service stations.

When adjusted for inflation, the record pump price would be around $3.12 a gallon from March 1981.

Strong global petroleum demand has pushed up oil prices around 40 percent this year, with U.S. crude reaching a record $62 a barrel last week.

Those high prices have been passed on to consumers at the pump, as oil accounts for about half the cost of making gasoline.

To help reduce U.S. oil demand, Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon on Monday said automakers should be required to boost the fuel efficiency of their cars and trucks by one mile per gallon a year for the next decade.

With the United States so dependent on imported oil, Wyden also complained that every time Americans fill their tanks with gasoline, a portion of the money is turned over to foreign governments "that 'backdoor' it over to Islamist extremists, who use that money to perpetuate terrorism and hate."

In the weekly EIA survey, the West Coast had the most expensive regular unleaded gasoline, with the price up 6.8 cents at $2.48 a gallon. San Francisco was at the top of the agency's survey of cities, with the price of gasoline up 5.6 cents at $2.58.

The Gulf Coast states, where many refineries are located, had the cheapest fuel, with the price up 11.8 cents at $2.24 per gallon. Among major cities, Houston had the lowest pump price, with fuel up 9.4 cents at $2.19.

The EIA report also showed prices, rounded to the nearest penny, were up 9.9 cents at $2.42 in Chicago, up 5.6 cents at $2.41 in Seattle, up 13.7 cents at $2.39 in Boston, up 12.1 cents at $2.38 in New York City, up 5.6 cents at $2.35 in Miami, and up 8.7 cents at $2.26 in Denver.

Separately, the average price for diesel fuel increased 6 cents to a record $2.41 a gallon, up 67 cents from a year earlier, the EIA said.

Truckers in the New England states paid the most for diesel at $2.53 a gallon, up 4.8 cents from last week. The Gulf Coast states had the cheapest diesel at $2.36 a gallon, up 6.5 cents.