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Gas prices: Tensions fuel pain at the pump

Experts say continued crisis in the Middle East could play a role in prolonged price increases

Posted: March 2, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 2, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Irma Martinez, of Newhall, fills her Nissan SUV at the Chevron station at Bouquet Canyon and Soledad Canyon roads in Valencia on Tuesday. Gasoline prices have risen across the country in recent weeks, fueled in part by concerns over future supplies due to the current unrest in the Middle East.

Santa Clarita Valley drivers continued to dig deeper into their wallets Tuesday, as surging gas prices made it more costly to fill up at the pump. Worse still, rising social unrest in the Middle East is threatening to keep oil and gasoline prices high for months to come, experts say.

Gasoline prices in California increased by about 16 cents per gallon this week, according to an online survey.

In the Santa Clarita Valley, gasoline cost about $3.72 per gallon on average Tuesday, according to a survey of SCV gas stations on

Prices are now up by more than 72 cents per gallon compared to a year ago, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Circle J Ranch Park resident Dustin Cleaver, 35, lamented the steep prices as he fueled his Nissan Titan truck at the Chevron gas station at the corner of Bouquet Canyon and Soledad Canyon roads Tuesday afternoon. The price there for a gallon of regular unleaded gas was $3.79.

Cleaver’s truck holds about 25 gallons of fuel and gets between 12 and 14 miles per gallon, he said.

“I can’t fill up on my ATM,” Cleaver said. “It stops at $75. It costs me $90 to fill up.”

Newhall resident Irma Martinez, 46, has been commuting daily to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center as her mother recovers from pancreas surgery.

The commute has been costly, she said.

“In two days, I’ve put in $100,” Martinez said as she fueled up her Nissan Murano.

Filling up at the pump isn’t expected to get cheaper in the near future.

Gasoline prices in the U.S. have shot up nearly 20 cents per gallon in the past week.

That’s the sharpest increase since September 2008, when Hurricane Ike shut down Gulf Coast refineries, according to the Oil Price Information Service.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina sent prices soaring about 45 cents per gallon in one week.

Americans are now paying roughly $75.6 million more per day to fill up than a week ago.

Social upheaval in the Middle East is believed to be partly responsible for increased oil and gasoline prices.

Oil prices surged 13 percent last week, peaking above $100 per barrel, as Libyan protesters expanded their control over the country.

Iran may have joined the fray, according to some reports. Iran exports about 2.5 million barrels of oil and natural gas liquids per day, about 3 percent of global demand. Protests there are among the latest uprisings that have churned through North Africa and the Middle East, a crucial region that’s responsible for most of the world’s crude exports.

Analysts say it’s impossible to say how long it will take for uprisings to play out, but energy markets likely will be on edge through the summer.


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