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Gas price shoots up all over townTell North Platte what you think
Courtesy Photo­Image
Rodeo Road and Maple, 1 p.m. Friday
Courtesy Photo­Image
Rodeo Road & Madison, 1 p.m. Friday
Photo by George Lauby
Back to $3.99, 1:15 p.m. Friday
Courtesy Photo­Image
Retail gas price in Nebraska over 6 months.

The price of gasoline in North Platte jumped sharply Friday, with stations all over town set their bottom price just below $4 a gallon.

Just three weeks ago, the average Nebraska price was $3.35 a gallon, according to the watchdog website -- gasbuddy.com. Then the price junped 10 cents a week for two weeks, then rocketed up 40 cents in one week.

A precursor of the high price was posted in North Platte Tuesday, when $3.99 a gallon -- 30 cents more than virtually everywhere else -- was posted at a U-Fillem at Francis and Dewey.

Prompted by phone calls from irate motorists, the Bulletin reported the stick-out price on Tuesday night. The next day the station dropped its price to $3.67 a gallon, which was in line with other stations around town.

But on Friday, the higher price parade began again. This time stations all over town took part.

Less than a week ago, gas sold for $3.59 a gallon during the May 11-12 weekend. Even on Tuesday, May 14, gas was $3.57 a gallon at Conoco on the south side of North Platte's main I-80 interchange.

But prices continued to rise. On Wednesday, Casey's raised the price from $3.69 to $3.79 a gallon.

And by noon Friday, Casey's price was another 20 cents higher -- at $3.99.

The volatile gas price seems to move up and down regardless of the price of crude oil, the basic ingredient from which gasoline is distilled.

In early January, when gas sold for around $3.10 in North Platte, the price of crude oil was $93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.


Analysts say the higher prices are driven by at least four refineries that are down or operating at lower capacity at a time when demand for gas increases.

A Joliet, Ill. refinery is completely down for an overhaul, according to Rose White of AAA Auto Club. A refinery in Whiting, Ind. has been down for some time but is scheduled to start up soon, according to a May 10 report in the Chicago Tribune.

A refinery in Tulsa started a maintenance program a few days ago. A refinery in El Dorado, Kan. is down for 10 days, according to the HollyFrontier company.

No one can positively predict if prices will go higher, or when they might come down, but White said prices should drop considerably by July 4th, if there are no other refinery issues.

Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst for gasbuddy.com, said prices could rise over the next week or two, but he expects a plateau and corresponding drop in June.

“It’s like getting a train going,” he said. “It’s going to take a while to get the train going downhill.”

The rise in gas prices is predicted to hurt other aspects of the economy. Since fuel is used to transport goods, prices are likely to inflate and consumers will cut back on buying other goods, analysts say.

As gas knocks on $4 a gallon, the price of crude has remained basically the same -- $96 a barrel on May 10.

More information was added to this report on Saturday.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 5/17/2013
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