Just last month, energy analysts were predicting that Sacramento-area gas prices were making a downhill run, but tensions in the Middle East and rising crude oil prices have stalled that projected decline.
Price tracker GasBuddy.com, which surveys more than 700 regional gas outlets daily, said the average retail price of gas in the Sacramento area rose 0.4 cents over the past week to $3.97 a gallon. The current average is 8.5 cents higher than a year ago but 3.6 cents lower than last month.
Nationally, the average pump price rose 2.6 cents over the past week to $3.68 a gallon – 4.6 cents higher than last month and nearly 11 cents higher than at this time last year.
In the opening week of this month, the average retail price of gasoline in the Sacramento area fell below $4 a gallon, for the first time since mid-April.
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Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, said prices are staying high, along with upheaval in Iraq. DeHaan said the United States receives 300,000 barrels of Iraqi crude per day, but the more significant concern is Iraq’s pumping capacity of about 3 million barrels a day.
DeHaan said he’s also watching another possible price-boosting variable: the federal gasoline tax. “Suddenly, there are a few different situations that bear monitoring that could have an impact at the pump: Iraq, the feds (raising gas taxes) and the peak of hurricane season, which is coming soon.”