Area residents don't think gas prices will stop until they reach $2 a gallon.
THE VINDICATOR, YOUNGSTOWN
By DON SHILLING
VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR
YOUNGSTOWN -- Gasoline prices are beginning to rise, and some area residents think they won't stop any time soon.
Gas at $2 a gallon is coming, said residents filling up their tanks Friday at two Austintown gas stations.
"I'd be surprised if it doesn't," said Renee Ritter, 45, of Youngstown.
She looks for tensions in the Middle East to continue pushing prices up from their current levels of about $1.35 a gallon to $1.45 a gallon.
Don Zeisler, 40, of Poland said he thinks prices will go over $2 a gallon, but he wishes politicians would do something to cap prices.
He thinks oil companies are gouging customers but nothing is being done to stop them.
John Tomko of Sharon said he's going on a trip in May and he expects to be paying at least $1.60 a gallon then. Prices will reach $2 if a war occurs in the Middle East, he said.
Last year: Brian Newbacher, a spokesman for the Ohio Motorists Association, said it's too early to say if prices will reach last year's records, but it appears higher crude oil prices could mean higher prices at the pump.
The price of crude oil increased by $3 a barrel this week to $27, mostly because of the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, he said. To make matters worse, both Iraq and Iran are calling for an oil embargo against the United States for its Middle Eastern policies.
Newbacher said prices also are being pushed up by increasing demand from an improving economy and the start of the spring and summer driving season.
By last May, prices in the Mahoning Valley reached about $1.80 a gallon, but by summer they had fallen to under $1.20.
The Sept. 11 attacks kept prices low in recent months because demand was down from a slowing economy and fewer people traveling.
Comparing averages: The Ohio Motorists Association survey of 45 stations in nine counties, including Mahoning and Trumbull counties, showed the average price for regular gasoline this week is $1.39 a gallon. Although this is up eight cents a gallon from last week, it is still 13 cents below the same week last year.
The U.S. Department of Energy said the average price of regular gas nationwide this week is $1.37, which was up 3 cents from last week but down 7 cents from a year ago. The highest average price this week was on the West Coast at $1.51, while the Gulf Coast recorded the lowest average price at $1.29.