Gasoline prices recently hit a record high by one measure, even though crude oil prices are well below the highs hit in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the August-September 2005 period.
Part of the force behind rising gasoline prices is a spate of planned and unplanned closures at U.S. refineries – as well some in other countries. On an inflation-adjusted basis, prices are still below their peak of a couple decades ago. The all-time record was in March 1981 when the pump price hit $1.42 -- that’s $3.22 in today’s dollars. Still, demand is up 2% year-to-date in the U.S., versus the year-ago period.
On the crude oil front, inventories have slipped in 12 of the past 13 weeks going into the Energy Dept.’s May 16 report.
Nevertheless, energy oil prices are higher than many predicted months ago. Near the end of 2006, crude oil hovered around $50 a barrel and gasoline was at $2 a gallon. And given the slowing economy, there’s growing concern about the energy spike.
Given all that