Demand, regulations to pump up gas prices

By Carol Ekstrom

Gas prices for the upcoming summer vacation months are expected to follow the trend of previous years and increase slightly, according to the Chicago American Automobile Association.

Louis Pukelis, American Automobile Association public affairs representative, said prices generally increase as the warmer weather approaches with the exception of the spring following the Gulf War.

Pukelis said one of the reasons for a price hike is the increase in demand.

“The price will increase when the gas industry sees an increase in demand,” he said. “More people travel in nicer weather, so the prices are expected to go up around Easter.”

Pukelis said another reason for price increases in the spring is because of a federal regulation requiring the oil industry to produce a seasonal gasoline with lower volatility to meet environmental guidelines of the Clean Air Act.

“To produce a gasoline with lower volatility, refiners must go through several extra steps in the refining process,” he said.

“This boosts the cost of the finished product by several cents per gallon.”

Don Sebby, owner of Sebby’s University Shell, 175 W. Lincoln Hwy., said gas prices are subject to fluctuations on a daily basis.

“We never have any control over the price of our gasoline,” he said. “But as the trend looks right now, gas prices will probably go up soon.”

Shell’s full-service prices currently are $1.06, $1.16 and $1.26 per gallon.

Rene (last name not given), manager of 7-Eleven Food Store, 930 Annie Glidden Rd., said she is told what to charge from the owners of 7-Eleven, Citco.

“My assumption is that prices will go up when people become more mobile,” she said. “When the nicer weather gets here, people want to travel more.”

The prices at 7-Eleven currently are 99 cents, $1.06 and $1.13 per gallon.

Pukelis said the lower volatility gas must be at gas stations by May 1. If the gas is introduced into the distribution system sooner, price hikes will take place immediately, he added.