Gas Prices Are Highest Since 1982

Posted: August 25, 1990

Retail gasoline prices yesterday reached their highest levels since 1982, but crude-oil prices nose-dived amid hopes that an OPEC meeting this weekend would stabilize world oil markets.

An American Automobile Association survey of 5,000 stations showed that the national average price for regular unleaded at self-service pumps was $1.274 a gallon, up 3.7 cents since Monday and 19.9 cents since Aug. 1, the day before Iraq invaded Kuwait and prices exploded.

The last time prices were higher nationwide was on the Fourth of July weekend in 1982, when the average price reached $1.296 a gallon, the AAA said.

In Pennsylvania and surrounding areas, retail prices continued to increase but remained well below the national average.

In Pennsylvania, the average pump price was $1.233 a gallon for self-serve regular unleaded. In Maryland and Delaware, the average price was $1.20 a gallon. Prices averaged $1.291 a gallon in New York, among the highest in the region.

New Jersey prices were not included on the AAA list because the state does not allow self-service gasoline sales. However, the New Jersey Gasoline Retailers Association said major oil companies had raised prices for all grades of gasoline between 8.5 cents and 11 cents since Aug. 1.

Meanwhile, crude-oil prices tumbled on the New York Mercantile Exchange,

mainly on profit-taking, amid renewed prospects for an interim production accord among OPEC members.

Saudi Arabia and Venezuela have called for a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in hopes of an informal agreement to allow some members to boost output to help replace the 4 million barrels a day of crude lost to world markets through a boycott of Iraqi and Kuwaiti oil.

A spokesman for OPEC confirmed that "consultative talks" would be held tomorrow in Vienna but said it was unlikely all 13 members would be represented. OPEC cannot make decisions on oil production quotas unless all members are present.

Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and the United Arab Emirates have the capacity to produce at least 3 million barrels a day more but have been reluctant to do so for fear of undermining OPEC's quota system.

The price of West Texas intermediate, the U.S. bench-mark grade of crude oil, finished down yesterday $1.02 at $30.91 a barrel for October delivery.

Fears of possible oil shortages, rather than actual shortages, have been the biggest factor behind the recent price rise. Analysts say crude prices could fall $5 to $7 a barrel within days if several OPEC members this weekend informally agree to increase production.

Wholesale unleaded gasoline for September delivery fell 3.89 cents to $1.047 a gallon, and September heating oil lost 5.27 cents a gallon to 90.96 cents a gallon.

On Thursday, world oil prices finished at their highest levels in more than seven years. Since Aug. 15, unleaded gasoline futures had finished at record highs.

The AAA emphasized that supplies of gasoline remained adequate but urged motorists to conserve.

The lowest gasoline prices in the AAA survey were in Texas, where they averaged $1.162 a gallon, and in the District of Columbia, where they averaged $1.192 a gallon.

The highest prices were in Hawaii, where a gallon of gasoline cost $1.486; Alaska, $1.476; Montana, $1.389, and Colorado, $1.333.

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