Gas prices continue to rise
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Gas prices jumped another penny overnight, making for an 18 cent price hike in just the last week.
The average price of regular unleaded has spiked to $3.37 in Houston. Experts say by the spring and summer driving season, we could be looking at a 19 and 20 percent hike from today.
A recent AAA study shows Americans are pumping four percent of their incomes into buying gasoline.
"Very expensive," said one commuter with whom we spoke.
The Energy Department says U.S. households spent a little more than $2,900 on gasoline last year. That's the highest level in four years.
"It's already putting a big enough dent in my pocket lately anyway. So it's just a little more," said commuter George Allen.
The recent spike in prices at the pump have many wondering why prices are back up.
Experts say the red-hot global economy, including tensions in the Middle East, coupled with refineries undergoing maintenance and panic over dwindling supplies creates the perfect storm that sends gas prices through the roof.
"We are at the heart of a major refining area that have shutdowns or maintenance issues," said KTRK political consultant Dr. Richard Murray. "Our gas prices mostly move with those in the nation, but we have some unique factors in Houston that can cause the price to fluctuate more than in other cities."
For now, companies filling up service vans and Texans fueling their trucks will have to try to save elsewhere, because they say they have no choice but to keep filling up.
"That Krogers card gives you like eight cents off per gallon," said commuter Daniel Currens.
Typically, we don't see spikes like these in winter months. But the price of gas is largely connected to the price of crude oil which we have seen go up since mid-December.
Experts say the severe cold snap in the Northeast may have refineries making more heating oil and less gasoline, which is a factor as well.
The Texas average is at $3.36 and the national average is $3.53.
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