Gas prices have been steadily climbing for weeks, leaving consumers,
gas-station owners and even experts perplexed about when prices will
level off and drop.
“Don’t believe anyone who said they know what the price of gas
will be in three or four weeks, because there are too many factors to
predict it,” said Jeffrey Spring, spokesman for the Automobile Club
of Southern California.
Past price hikes, he said, have been more predictable because they
generally were caused by just one or two reasons.
But the current rise is a confluence of several factors, including
recent oil strikes in Venezuela halting exports; lower crude oil
imports overall; refineries switching to the more expensive summer
grades; an increase in the amount of oil used to heat homes in the
eastern United States during an abnormally cold winter; and, finally,
speculation about an impending war with Iraq.
According to the club, the average weekend gas price in the Los
Angeles area was $1.97 per gallon. As of Monday, gas-station prices
ranged from $1.93 for regular and $2.09 for a higher performance
octane at a Mobil in Magnolia Park to $2.03 for regular and $2.25 for
higher performance octane at a Chevron in Media District West.
Sam Amir, a Burbank resident and Acura Integra owner, said the
cost to fill his tank a month ago was $22. Now, he’s paying $30.
“My natural tendency would be to drive less, but I cannot,” he
said. “I don’t think I can afford to alter my work or leisure
Amir also said, over the years, he has found high prices to be
cyclical and expects them to return to normal. But if they don’t, he
said he would consider alternative-fuel cars.
Taline Arsenian, a Glendale resident who drives a Ford Escape,
said she recently bought her sport-utility vehicle and would rather
curb her driving than switch cars.
“Financially, it’s a burden,” she said. “Especially when you hear
on the news that the increase is unnecessary and the gas companies
are taking advantage of us.”
However, Maurice Vanegas, the owner of Galactic Fuel at 2616 N.
Glenoaks Blvd., said wholesale prices have climbed about 5 to 6 cents
a day since he opened Feb. 25, and that he makes hardly any money on
gas. He said he makes most of his profits selling candy, soda and
His prices as of Monday were $1.98 for regular and $2.08 for the
higher performance octane.
“Unfortunately, but obviously, I have to sell according to what
[the other] gas stations are selling at,” he said. “And tomorrow,
I’ll probably have to raise the price again, or my business won’t
last very long.”