Crude oil prices could lead to higher gas prices

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The Coey family has seen rising gas prices first-hand while traveling from Florida to California.

"They're different everywhere," Debra Coey said. "Everything in Colorado and especially the mountains has been a little high though."

Coey, who is moving to California to help her mother, said she dislikes the high prices but knows she can't do anything about it.

"We have to pay it, so we don't worry about it," she said.

Gas prices soon could go higher, as crude oil prices hit record highs and approached $60 a barrel Monday.

"We're just assuming prices will go up," said Tina Myers, manager of the east Conoco after finding out about the record highs.

Gas prices across the state and especially in Craig have seen drastic changes in the past year. According to the Energy Information Administration, the average gas price in Craig was $2.38 per gallon -- 26 cents higher than the state average.

Claire Putnam said the recent hike in gas prices has changed the way she spends.

"It costs about $40 to fill up my tank," she said. "Anything I'm going to want extra, I'm going to have to wait for. Forty dollars adds up."

Dennis Parrott, the manager of Weston Oil Co. Inc., said there are several reasons gas prices in Craig are much higher than surrounding areas.

Parrott said gas prices are lower in areas such as Steamboat Springs because of the high number of places that sell gas.

"There is a gas war going on (in Steamboat)," he said. "It's a competitive spot."

In Craig, Parrott estimated every time a person fills up with 15 gallons of gas, he only makes about $2.

He said this is because every time unleaded fuel comes into Craig, it faces a federal tax of 18 cents, a state tax of 22 cents, an environmental surcharge of 1 cent and a freight charge that varies from week to week. These costs are on top of the rack price, the price set for fuel before it gets to gas stations.

"We're not making a fortune off them (Craig residents)," he said. "We're not gouging them. The situation in Steamboat is just making (gas retailers) look bad."

Considering his costs of maintenance, insurance and rates, he said gas prices in Craig are right along the lines they are supposed to be.

"I feel that Craig is on track or below the price they should be," he said.

Although Parrott would like to see gas prices go down, he said an increase was inevitable.

"It (gas) is going to go up, it's just a matter of time," he said. "Petroleum hasn't kept up with inflation."

As for the recent rise in crude oil prices, Parrott said it may hurt his business, but he said future gas prices are tough to predict.

"There is not a whole lot I can do," he said. "I'll just sit back and see what happens. Where (gas prices) are going to go is hard to say."

Luke Graham can be reached at 824-7031.

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