High gas prices put

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 19, 2000

squeeze on area residents



Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Staff Writers

March 18, 2000 10 PM

In this day and age, gasoline is a necessity, but many drivers and local oil distributors are saying they could do without the high prices.

Carola Jeter of Jeter Oil in Goshen said the increase in gas prices has been horrendous for their business and she doesn’t know when there will be an end to the high prices.

"I don’t know a lot about it except the OPEC nations are not coming together and are just holding back on what they produce," Jeter said. "Recently, we have heard a rumbling that they are going to the table to discuss production but we don’t know what will happen. I don’t think anyone does."

Still prices at the pumps all over Pike County remain high, and consumers continue to groan when it’s time to fill up their tanks. Gas price in Pike County range from 145.9 to 148.9 for regular unleaded, and premium gas prices from 163.9 to 168.9.

Jeter said she understands what the consumers feel when they go to the pump because it is affecting local distributor, too.

"We heard little talk about prices possible starting to decrease, but we really won’t know until we see it at the pumps," she said.

Jeter said even smaller oil distributors are feeling the pains of the decreased production of crude oil, and the industry wants to see the prices drop just like everyone else.

"When we start to replace the gas we sold last week we are using up the profits we made from that week and then some," she said. "This is affecting every segment and it is not good for the economy. It’s a dilemma for everyone."

This past week, AAA Auto Club released a survey of United States gas stations. Those numbers show the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded was $1.54.

And, according to the Energy Information Administration, not much is expected to change.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has decided over the past two years to cut back on production just to raise low prices. While the oil cartel is expected to increase production later in March, Americans won’t see a difference for another six weeks.

The average monthly retail prices for gasoline are likely to reach an all-time high this month and continue rising through the spring.

National average prices have already reached levels reminesent of the disruption such as those experienced a decade ago by the Iraqui invasion of Kuwait.

"Crude prices are high ­ the highest in nine years, and inventories for gasoline, other petroleum products are crude oil are low ­ considerably lower than average," the EIA’s web site states. "All of these developments stem from the same source: sharply reduced world oil supply by OPEC and some non-OPEC producers."

With the peak travel months quickly approaching, it doesn’t look good for those planning to drive on family vacations.

EIA calculations show "barring major refinery disruptions this summer, average retail gasoline prices could reach a monthly (national) average of $1.75-$1.80 per gallon somewhere during the peak driving season."

As much as everyone hates watching the numbers get higher and higher as they pump gasoline into their cars, there is little that can be done here. Changes are up to OPEC.

State Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, is trying to do something to relieve the punch of pump prices.

Holmes has proposed legislation to suspend the five-cent state gasoline tax.

Some have argued the legislation, saying it is well intended, but does nothing to address the cause of higher gas prices.

In other words, they are saying the Alabama Legislature can do nothing about the rising cost of world oil prices or the petroleum supply.

Also, suspending the gas tax would take money from road construction funds.

Other states have begun pleading with officials in Washington, D.C. who have the power to discuss oil supplies and prices with OPEC.