Gasoline Soars Months Before Driving Season

Gasoline prices have hit another all-time high, selling at an average of more than $3.22 per gallon nationwide, as they follow crude oil prices upward. And we're still months away from the summer driving season, which could push prices even higher.

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The Energy Department reports gas prices at all-time highs. Gasoline is selling at an average of more than $3.22 per gallon nationwide. And we are still months away from the summer driving season when prices frequently go up. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY: Gasoline prices have been on a tear, jumping more than a quarter a gallon in the last four weeks to shatter the old record set last May. Jeff Sundstrom of AAA says there's a simple explanation for the high price at the pump. The crude oil used to make gasoline is selling for well over $100 a barrel.

Mr. JEFF SUNDSTROM (AAA): A year ago price of crude was between $60 and $65 per barrel. We're not quite double that now, but certainly the cost of oil has gone into the stratosphere and it's dragging gasoline prices along with it.

HORSLEY: OPEC's president warned that oil prices could stay in triple digit territory for the rest of the year, although other forecasters are skeptical. Sundstrom says the sky-high gas prices are especially alarming at this time of year, when demand for gas is well below its mid-summer peak.

Mr. SUNDSTROM: Our best advice to consumers at this time is to prepare for all-time record high prices between now and the start of the summer driving season and do what you can to conserve.

HORSLEY: A rare bit of positive economic news helped push oil prices to a new high yesterday. Sundstrom says he hates to think it will take a recession to bring oil prices down, but that is one possible outcome.

Scott Horsley, NPR News.

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