Gas price hikes thanks to economy, holidays and fuel-blend switch

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — You’ve probably noticed that the price of gasoline is going up and doing so at a rapid pace.

The gas price hike comes at a time when many are getting ready to do some holiday traveling.

It turns out, industry analysts say demand for gasoline continues to be strong and it comes at a time when stockpiles of gasoline are dwindling. That has some Raleigh area drivers frustrated.

“It’s gone up a good bit,” says driver James Crowe who says it’s affecting his wallet “a lot.”

At this time of year, refineries are moving from summertime gasoline blends to wintertime fuels and that cuts stockpiles, too.

“They are in the midst of converting to heating oil and that type of thing,’’ says Mike Barker who is the owner of North Hills Exxon in Raleigh. “That puts a strain on the supply of what they can put down the pipeline.”

Also, with the economy doing well, AAA motor club says more people are driving for many different reasons.

“I usually drive when I’m stressed — it kind of clears my head,” says Taylor Stearley of Raleigh. “And, I’ve done a lot of that in the past few months.”

This is traditionally the time of year when gas prices go down, but not this year.

The triple AAA says the state-wide average for a gallon of regular is 2.41 cents, which is 26 cents higher than this time last year.

“It makes me not want to drive so much, just go to work and back home,” says Stearley.

Nationally, the price of gas has increased almost a dime in the last two weeks and all those dimes add up at the pump.

Driver Allison Ranghel told CBS North Carolina she’s having a tough time dealing with the increasing gas prices on her budget.

“I’m probably going to go broke,” she said jokingly.

The Energy Information Administration says demand for gasoline hasn’t been this high since October of 2006, but service station owners like Mike Barker say motorists should not worry about shortages.

“Supply won’t be an issue,” Barker says.

He also is the first to admit that gas prices shoot up quickly, but tend to drop at a much slower rate.

The AAA believes there won’t see significant drops in the price of gasoline until well after the Thanksgiving holiday.

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