Alaska, Hawaii gassed

Posted: Friday, May 20, 2005

Alaska is one of two states in the country where gasoline prices continued to rise in the last month. The other state is Hawaii.

Average fuel prices in the state increased 6.8 cents in the last month to $2.35 per gallon, according to a press release issued by AAA. Average gasoline prices in the state reached an all-time high of $2.36 per gallon on May 14.

The nationwide average price of self-serve regular gasoline dropped 8.4 cents per gallon in the last 30 days to $2.16 per gallon, according to the press release.

The AAA press release said growing inventories of crude oil and gasoline in the United States should cause the national average price to drop over the next week.

AAA monitors national, state and local gasoline prices.

In Kenai and Soldotna, the average price of regular gasoline is about $2.34 per gallon, said Kathleen Ritter, shift leader at Vaughn's Mini Mart, a gasoline retailer on Kalifornsky Beach Road.

"It would be really nice if they dropped the prices," Ritter said. "People would be more comfortable traveling and going to work every day."

She said she has not seen the high prices affecting business.

John Felmy, chief economist for the Washington, D.C.-based American Petroleum Institute, or API, said the rising prices are due to an isolated market in Alaska. This causes high prices and limits opportunities to import gasoline into the state. He also said the distribution system is different here.

"You're a relatively isolated market," Felmy said.

API is a trade association for the oil and gas industry in the United States.

The isolation of Hawaii's market contributes to high prices there, as well.

The national drop in gasoline prices is because of a drop in crude prices, Felmy said.

"You're seeing the traditional pattern of gasoline prices following crude (oil) prices."

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