Gas Prices Continue Upward

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Triple-A Alabama reports the average price per gallon for regular unleaded, self-serve gas in the state has hit a $1.56. That's about 10 cents more than last week.

In a statement, Birmingham-based Triple-A said the hikes in gasoline prices are not justified.

Spokesman Adam Kelly said no one knows how high gas prices will rise. He said it's possible Alabamians could see prices at the pumps climb as a high as $2.00 a gallon.

One year ago, the average was a $1.06 in the months following travel reductions prompted by the 2001 terrorist attacks.

An industry analyst reported this week that the price of gas nationwide has risen about 11 cents per gallon in the last two weeks.

Peter Clark, a petroleum expert at the University of Alabama said several factors are to blame. He cites the ongoing Persian Gulf crisis, the oil production strike in Venezuela, and a colder winter that increase consumer demand for heating oil.

Motorists filling up in Mississippi face a similar situation. In Meridian right now, the prices are $1.64 for regular unleaded at most places.

Many consumers are concerned at the rise.

"I don't know. It's hard on the working man," said one Meridian customer.

Workers at a convenience store said they've heard plenty of complaints.

"People are saying it's a shame prices keep going up, and a lot of people are traveling this time of year," said Dorothy Ferrell.

But most retailers say they make even less money when the prices are high, because they can't raise the price high enough to make up for their costs. Some people say the prices are just the way it is.

"That's the way the market goes. Sometimes it's up, sometimes it's down," another customer said.

There are concerns that the closer we get to a war with Iraq, the higher the prices may go.

But there may be some hope. Following the 1991 Gulf War, prices actually fell dramatically and stayed down for quite some time. That's history many consumers hope will repeat itself.