By Jacob Conde
Provo residents are feeling the effects of the highest-ever gas prices throughout the nation.
Gas prices have reached a record high, with a national average of $1.77 per gallon for all grades, having jumped by 26 cents so far this year. The national average for each grade of gasoline in the nation was $1.74 for regular, $1.84 for mid-range, and $1.94 for premium.
The previous record high was $1.76 per gallon for all grades in May of 2001.
In Provo, gas prices continue to fluctuate, and the variation makes it difficult for people to figure out when and where to fill their fuel tanks.
“It was $1.75 last week, then it went to $1.81 on Friday,” said Marie Andreason, an employee at the Sinclair gas station at 700 E. 800 North in Provo.
On Monday afternoon, the price went down again, she said.
“The price has been up at the refineries,” said Robin Lazenby, personal manager at Conoco. “It”s a supply and demand type thing.”
The Associated Press reported the price changes come from increased refinery work and a greater cost in crude oil as gasoline companies prepare for spring and summer, when demand for gas is higher because of the increased travel as more Americans take vacations and road trips.
The highest gas prices in the country are in California, which has an average of $2.10 per gallon throughout the state. The higher costs in the state are also due to higher sales taxes and environmental taxes drivers pay at the pump.
In addition to increased refinery costs, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has declared it will reduce its official oil production. The reduction is part of an effort to control the amounts of oil being exported.
Countries that produce more than the amount they are supposed to produce, in an effort to sell more oil at a cheaper price, will face sanctions from the organization.
According to analyst Trilby Lundberg, the effect of limiting the crude oil production may be another cost that payers at the pump will have to absorb.
“Where crude oil prices go next, whether they push or pull on gas prices, is OPEC”s guess,” Lundberg said.
However, Lundberg also said gas prices should begin to level out, since most of the pre-summer refinery work is nearing completion.
“The pace of the pump price hike has slowed,” Lundberg said. “Prices are dropping on a spotty basis throughout the country.”