Gas prices here moving up; no relief in sight

Published 2:29 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On Feb. 3 at Exit 4 on Interstate 59 in Picayune the price for a gallon of regular gasoline jumped six cents, from $3.289 to $3.349, and since then it has jumped up another 15 cents to $3.499, posted at RaceTrac on Monday morning, or 21 cents in less than one month.

RaceTrac sets the pace for gas prices in Pearl River County, and when the price there moves, it is quickly followed by Bill’s Quick Stop and Murphy’s at Wal-Mart, both of which match RaceTrac’s price, the lowest in Pearl River County.

All three stations are located off Exit 4, the first Picayune exit headed north out of Louisiana and about four miles north of the state line. There are six fueling stops at Exit 4, where the lowest price of a gallon of regular sold in Pearl River County can be found.

Premium gasoline prices in Pearl River County are pushing $4 and in other parts of the U.S. have already passed that mark. The price of a gallon of regular gasoline has never been above $4 here.

The only consolation motorists have in Picayune and Pearl River County is that the price of a gallon of regular here is tracking at least 11 cents below the national average of $3.61 a gallon.

Drivers in Florida last week were paying $5.89 a gallon near Disney World, and drivers in Chicago and San Francisco were paying $4.85 a gallon, according to news reports.

Some experts are predicting $5-per-gallon gas by mid-summer, but other prognosticators are predicting it will settle somewhere between $4.50 and $5, according to “gasbuddy,” online site.

Experts quoted in national press reports say that if Israel or some other country attacks Iran over its nuclear program and that country closes the Strait of Hormuz, the price of a barrel of oil could pass $150, even reaching $200 a barrel, which would put gas well above the $5-per-gallon mark.

Other experts told the business press over the weekend that consumption of oil in the U.S. is at historic lows and supplies are “ample.” Some experts have told the business press the reason gasoline in this nation has moved up to its current levels is because oil companies are moving supplies to other countries, where gasoline is selling at a premium.

The high prices have also roiled the political debates in the U.S.

Looking back over the last few years will give a driver heartburn.

In 2009, prices were hovering around $2 a gallon.

Item files show in late October 2010, a gallon of regular was $2.589 at RaceTrac. By February 2011, it had jumped to $2.789. That’s a 20-cent-per-gallon move.

From October 2010, to Feb. 27, 2012, or 17 months, the price of a gallon of regular gasoline here has increased 91 cents per gallon, for a 74 percent increase.