As the cost of gas burns through the pockets of local drivers, and significantly outpaces the average cost nationwide, some Carson City residents are casting worried looks at the digital counters and wishing they could throttle the gas nozzle.
Jill Yaworski, 18, put $10 into her tank at the Arco on Carson and William streets and watched the damage. It gives her about four gallons of regular unleaded. Her family lives in Carson City so she often comes to visit them from her new home in Reno, where she will start her freshman year at the University of Nevada, Reno.
"I just moved to Reno and I'm out on my own, so the high gas prices are affecting me because I have all this other stuff I have to pay for now - like rent," she said.
Lori Millard-Streeter spends $30 a week on her 1996 Subaru Legacy station wagon. Thursday at the pump she spent $25 to get about 10 gallons of regular gas.
"I should be driving less than I am, but it's hard during the summer when you're running around town and doing stuff with the kids," she said while cleaning her front window. Her daughter, 6-year-old Mandy, had a squeegee in hand and wiped down the other side of the window.
The average price of regular gas in Nevada hit a record Thursday at $2.60, according to the American Automobile Association Daily Fuel Gauge Report. Another record was set in Reno, where the average cost of regular gas is $2.68. A year ago it was $2.03. Nationwide the average is staying below $2.37.
"That's pretty typical," said AAA Nevada spokesman Sean Comey. "Nevada has some of the highest taxes on gas in the U.S. And there's also fewer sources of supply than what's typical in the rest of the U.S."
Northern Nevada has one pipeline coming in from California. When the sources of supply are greater, competition between the providers tends to drive down prices.
"We also can't forget that there's a lot of profit in these figures," Comey said. "If you're a gas refinery or an oil company, this is a very good year for you. But if you're one of the rest of us consumers filling up your tank and going to work, it's not nearly as good."
Gas prices are dependent on four factors: taxes, profit for the oil refinery, the cost of crude oil and retail markup. But the retailers aren't often the bad guys in all this, Comey said.
"The typical gas station owner may make the same selling you a cup of coffee and a donut than selling you a gallon of gas," he said.
Oil prices continue to surge, climbing to a new high of $66 a barrel Thursday. Crude oil for September delivery ended trading up 92 cents, or 1.4 percent, at $65.82 a barrel.
U.S. refinery problems have decreased gas output, Comey said. But that only affects up to 3 percent of total gas production in the country. The high cost of crude propelled by international anxiety over terrorism and Iran's pursuit of nuclear technology has bid up the price.
Oil future trading is also at near record high levels, he said. Last year, Exxon Mobile earned more than $25 billion in profits, the largest profit posted by any corporation in the world.
"So that means they are betting today's prices are not unreasonable and are going to get higher," he said.
This turmoil is stirring during the time when many Americans are vacationing.
"I'm on vacation so it's all affecting me a lot," said heating/ventilation repairman Denny Morgan. "It's upsetting."
He was traveling through Carson City in his blue 1964-and-a-half Ford Mustang, built especially for the 1965 World Fair, with his wife on the way up to Lake Tahoe.
Morgan filled up his tank with about eight gallons of $2.75 premium gasoline. The trip from Bend, Ore., has cost him about $100.
n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.
On the Net
To compare gas station prices visit www.nevadagasprices.com. The Web site lists the lowest and highest gas station prices in your area.