Salt Lake area gasoline prices took another big jump Wednesday - bringing total increases in the past five weeks to 30 cents a gallon.
Holiday Oil's president, Jerry Wagstaff, said his stations raised unleaded gasoline to about $1.159 per gallon to catch up with wholesale price hikes. Other stations have ordered similar increases."Our story's just a matter of survival," Wagstaff said. He said wholesale prices have been rising by 1 to 3 cents nearly every day for some time, and retailers finally had to follow suit.
Jim Craig, gasoline manager for Southland Corp.'s 7-Eleven stores in Utah and Colorado, said the end still is not in sight. He said the latest issue of Oil Express magazine predicts further wholesale price increases, and his suppliers are telling him the same thing.
Several factors are involved in the price jumps - the Valdez oil spill is one of those but not the major factor in the Intermountain area, Craig said.
Other reasons include normal spring demand increases; a retail catchup with steadily increasing crude oil prices since late 1988; the explosion of a North Sea oil platform that cut into production of low-cost light crude oil; and a change in gasoline vapor pressure requirements - dictated by the Environmental Protection Agency _ which will raise manufacturing costs and has led refiners to reduce their inventory of higher-pressure gasoline.
"Right now it's certainly a crazy time in the gasoline business," Craig said.
Earlier this month, Jim Peacock, executive director of the Utah Petroleum Association, said the recent increases are so dramatic because refiners, jobbers and retailers were forced to keep their prices low during the first three months of the year because of less demand.
Crude oil produced in Colorado and Utah's Uintah Basin has increased in price steadily over the past six months from $12.25 in November to $20 in mid-April, Peacock told a recent meeting of the Legislature's Energy, Natural Resources an Agriculture Interim Committee.