Thursday, February 7, 2013

Gas prices surge as the summer squeeze begins

It's happening again.

It's not even close to the summer driving season -- in fact, it's not even springtime -- but as surely as February gives way to March, gas prices have begun their annual assent.
The average price for a gallon of regular is now $3.53 a gallon, according to AAA. That's 17 cents higher than it was just a week ago, and 23 cents higher than last month.
In parts of Los Angeles, drivers are already paying more than $5 a gallon.
"I'm shocked. I don't know what happened," Diana Griffitts, a motorist filling up at a downtown LA station, told CNN. "Just a week ago I paid under $4 a gallon. I'd like an explanation."
Well Diana, we'll try.
Analysts say gas prices are going up for two basic reasons: oil prices are rising, and refineries are shutting down.
Oil prices have jumped 10% over the last two months. The price of crude accounts for 68% of the cost of a gallon of gas, according to the Energy Information Administration. Other costs include refining (8%), marketing and distribution (11%), and taxes (13%).
Energy analysts say oil prices are rising partly because the economy is improving. The U.S. housing market had its best year in the last five, U.S. job growth is steady, and the Chinese economy is showing an uptick.
OPEC production cuts are also causing oil prices to rise. The cartel is believed to have cut production by about 1 million barrels a day over the last few months, partly as a response to rising oil production elsewhere, notably the United Sates.