Gas Prices Rise Nearly 1.5 Cents a Gallon in 2 Weeks

From Associated Press

Gas prices rose nearly 1.5 cents a gallon over the last two weeks, an industry analyst said Sunday.

The average weighted price for gasoline nationwide, including all grades and taxes, was about $1.52 a gallon Friday, according to the Lundberg Survey of 8,000 stations. Gas cost just over $1.50 a gallon Jan. 3, the date of the last survey.

Contributing to the price rise was the oil production strike in Venezuela; a fear of war against Iraq; the cold weather on the East Coast, which is prompting some refiners to produce more heating oil; and the use of a costlier gasoline additive in California, said analyst Trilby Lundberg, who is based in Camarillo.

California is phasing out the use of methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE, an additive that is blamed for polluting drinking water. Some refineries are replacing it with ethanol, which is more expensive but better for the environment, Lundberg said.

That has increased prices in California, in turn pushing up the nationwide average, she said.

Federal law requires gasoline to contain a 2% oxygen additive -- such as MTBE or ethanol -- to cut down on air pollution.

The national weighted average price of gasoline, including taxes, at self-serve pumps Friday was about $1.49 a gallon for regular, $1.58 for mid-grade and $1.67 for premium.

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