If you are one of the mathematically gifted who creates detailed monthly budgets that include an allotment for motor fuel, and you want to know what kind of an allotment to allot for the next few months - you're on your own.

Nobody - but nobody - is making bets on what will happen to Salt Lake's gasoline prices in the near future.You might think you know places to find out such things - like the "U.S. Oil Week's Price Monitor" - but you don't. Take the Aug. 8 issue of the "Monitor." The lead headline reads "Product Crude Prices Slide as Stocks and Imports Climb."

Then the first sentence said, "Rack gasoline prices fell last week and should continue falling this week." Rack prices are what wholesalers pay refineries for gas. That drop means pump prices will also fall soon, you reasonably conclude.

Two days later, Salt Lake's pump prices jumped 10 cents.

The price of imported oil has a sluggish impact on the price of Utah oil - and most of Utah's gasoline is made from Utah oil. If the price of imported oil keeps falling, Utah's oil may have to come down to compete. That means gasoline prices here may drop.

But no one knows if import oil prices will continue to slide or how much they will force Utah oil prices down. Some say the truce between Iran and Iraq will lower oil prices. Others say it will cause the price to jump.

"If I knew which it would be, I could be a rich man," said Gene Roeder, price and supply manager with Phillips 66 Co.

Traditionally, Utah's demand for gasoline drops drastically in the winter, Roeder said. More so than most areas. If regional refineries can solve their mechanical problems and get their productions back up to maximum levels, regional supplies may be up this winter.

If those supplies are high at the time Utah's demand takes its seasonal plunge, Utahns may see gasoline prices settle back down this winter. But don't do anything foolish like betting money on it.