Carson gas prices jump 46 cents in one month

Jim Grant/Nevada AppealCarson City resident Chris Houston spent almost $100 on Tuesday to fill the gas tank of the van he uses for work.

Jim Grant/Nevada AppealCarson City resident Chris Houston spent almost $100 on Tuesday to fill the gas tank of the van he uses for work.

As he watched the gas pump nearly top $100 on Tuesday, Chris Houston's facial expression fell somewhere between pained and worried.

It's an expression he may be wearing for awhile. Carson City drivers are now paying 46 cents more for regular gas than they were a month ago, according to a AAA fuel survey released Tuesday. Nationwide, gas prices are up 40 cents in the past month amid continued tension in the Middle East.

Houston, who works for a Carson City flooring company and drives his own van, said he has to pay for his own gas, which can be a twice-a-week ritual.

"You just have to hope it gets better," Houston said. "It's only going to get worse, I heard. I try not paying attention too much to the sign when I drive in."

The average price for unleaded gasoline in Nevada is $3.62, a 46-cent increase since Feb. 8. Compared to the average price for regular fuel in March 2010, the cost of regular gas has gone up 80 cents in the Silver State. In Carson City, the average cost of fuel is now $3.68 while Reno's is $3.74, a 47-cent increase from last month.

For Sally Martini, 52, that could mean leaving her large diesel truck at home more often.

"Now I just fill it up when there's half left to go because it's not as painful," Martini said at a Carson City gas station on Tuesday. She said an entire tank now costs her more than $100.

"I won't drive it unless I have to anymore," she said.

Prices for crude oil surpassed $100 a barrel in the past month, the first time since October 2008, while a popular uprising in Libya continues to unsettle the global oil market.

"Despite the unrest and violence in the Middle East, events to date have produced little actual disruption to supply," said Michael Geeser, the spokesman for AAA Nevada. "Yet the uncertainty of where the unrest might spread has driven investors to speculate that oil prices will increase further. If prices do go up, speculators will make a profit on the product they are purchasing today."

The rising prices have increased calls on President Barack Obama to tap into the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserves, an emergency stockpile of 727 million barrels of crude oil to protect the country from disruptions in its fuel supply.

Geeser said some analysts are discouraging such a move because there is no shortage of fuel to fill. Instead, recent price increases are being driven by investor demands and not traditional supply and demand factors.

Nevada currently has the sixth highest gas price in the lower 48 while California has the most expensive in the entire country at $3.91, a distinction usually given to Hawaii, which is averaging $3.90.

The least expensive gas is in Casper, Wyo., at $3.02.


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