Gasoline Prices Keep Rising

With summer just around the corner, drivers everywhere are bracing for higher gas prices.

"This is the highest I've ever seen," a New York City motorist told CBS News Correspondent Serena Altschul.

From $2.17 in New York to a whopping $2.47 in Seattle, prices are on the rise. The national average for unleaded gasoline is at a high of $1.84 a gallon. Nearly every state in the country has hit record prices.

"It's tensions in the Middle East, it's fighting in Iraq, and it's bomb attacks in Saudi Arabia," said John van Schaick. "People get worried that the supply of oil might be disrupted."

On Friday, those fears, along with increased demand worldwide, sent the price of crude oil to a 13-year high of $40 a barrel.

"There are big bets out in the market that the price might even hit 50 in the summer," said van Schaick.

Oil ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Oman on Saturday separately called for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to take steps to bring down soaring oil prices.

The OPEC cartel "should do something" when it meets June 3 in Beirut, Lebanon, and reconsider its 23.5 million barrel-per-day output ceiling, United Arab Emirates Oil Minister Obaid bin Saif al-Nasseri told reporters Saturday during an environment conference in Abu Dhabi, the capital.

OPEC, he said, already is overproducing the ceiling by 2 million barrels a day in an attempt to curb rising prices. He indicated he would like to see the output ceiling raised, but did not say how high.

Those higher oil prices are taking a bite out of the auto industry. Sales of gas-guzzling SUVs like Chevy's Hummer are down 20 percent. Ford's Excursion saw a drop of 30 percent, while hybrid cars and fuel efficient vehicles are becoming more popular.

Can motorists live with $2.17?

"Well, at this point, I'm riding around on fumes, so I don't have much of a choice," smiled one driver.

If you do have enough gas, shopping around might save some money: A study by The Arizona Republic found prices in the Phoenix area varied by as much as 25 cents a gallon.

Lease costs, competition, location and the amount of service all play into the prices, says the American Automobile Association.

Despite the rising prices, drivers around the country haven't changed their habits. Last month the demand for gasoline averaged 9.1 million barrels a day — a 4 percent increase from last year.
  • Lloyd Vries

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