oil company officials say Utah gasoline price increases can be linked to the infamous Exxon oil spill off the coast of Alaska, but Salt Lake motorists reacted with disbelief, shock and outrage to the latest round of increases - increases that now total 20 to 25 cents a gallon since Easter weekend.

"Twenty cents? I sure didn't expect this much of an increase," said Andrew Raymond as he filled his tank Thursday."I sure couldn't get away with this in my business," said Richard Aposhian, a car dealer from Sandy.

Other motorists were downright irate at the hefty price increases, venting their frustrations on convenience store managers who nevertheless tried to keep a smile on their faces and their lips buttoned.

Gretchen Blackburn, store manager at Circle K at 17th South and State, said prices started going up Tuesday, prompting reactions of shock more than anything else.

In Salt Lake City, prices were locked in at $1.04.9 for regular, $1.07.9 for unleaded and $1.17.9 for premium unleaded.

Many customers are dubious of company claims that prices are linked to the Exxon oil spill and find it ironic that all stations throughout the valley would raise prices by the exact same amount.

"I expected it to go up because of the spill but not this much," added Raymond. Aposhian called it nothing more than a corporate scheme to profit from the Exxon oil spill as well as the upcoming tourist season.

Officials from Chevron USA, 7-Eleven, Holiday Oil, Rainbo Oil and the Petroleum Retailers Organization did not return Deseret News phone calls Thursday.

Wednesday, two oil companies - Shell and Chevron - limited gasoline deliveries to distributors in Western states in what one official called the first U.S. gas rationing since the Arab oil embargo of 1973. Both companies said the rationing was to prevent the hoarding of gasoline in the wake of the spill.

Shell spokesman Bill Gibson in Houston said the gasoline rationing by his company and Chevron is the first he could recall since the embargo. Shell's decision to put a cap on its deliveries to wholesalers in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Utah, Nevada and Arizona resulted from excessive buying by those distributors in the last week.