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Spike in gas prices unlikely

Spike in gas prices unlikely

Despite an upward trend in the price of gasoline, government analysts are not seeing major factors i

Despite an upward trend in the price of gasoline, government analysts are not seeing major factors in the market that would lead to significant price increases at the pumps.

Figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show retail gasoline prices jumped by about 8 cents a gallon between last week and this week, leaving the price statewide at $2 per gallon.

The current price of gasoline in the state is about $1.20 per gallon lower than this time last year.

Consumers are still sore from paying more than $4 per gallon last summer, and the increase of about 20 cents over the past few weeks could be alarming for some.

But major factors, such as the cost of a barrel of oil or worldwide demand, aren’t pointing to a continued increase.

“We’re not, at this point, expecting a huge spike because we’re not expecting to see any rapid rise in crude oil prices,” said Jonathan Cogan, a spokesman for the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Cogan said the EIA’s short-term forecast for the average national gasoline price is at $1.87 per gallon using the assumption that crude oil prices will average about $43 per barrel.

Right now, the price of a barrel of oil is fluctuating between $40 and $45, Cogan said.

“Given that the economic situation looks so bleak, it doesn’t look, at least right now, that we’ll see any big uptick in oil demand,” Cogan said.

AAA Northway tracks gasoline prices locally and people on average are paying $2.01 per gallon, spokesman Eric Stigberg said.

That compares with $1.78 per gallon on Jan. 1.

Stigberg said one major factor that affects fuel prices is demand which, over the past two years, is actually down by 8 percent.

What’s really unusual, he said, is that prices are going up. “People are actually using less gas,” Stigberg said.

Demand is down 5 percent right now from a year ago and it dropped 3 percent last year, Stigberg said.

The current trend also clashes with an annual drop in gasoline prices that happens in February prior to the annual increase in prices closer to springtime.

“February is typically a time when we see prices creep down before we get into the spring and the driving season,” Stigberg said.

For those looking to save a few pennies on a fill-up, the Web site www.albanygasprices.com continues to track the cheapest and most expensive places to buy gas.

On the low end, contributors to the Web site found regular gas on sale Thursday for $1.90 per gallon in Burnt Hills and Saratoga Springs.

On the other end, people are paying $2.25 a gallon on Western Avenue in Guilderland.

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