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Gas Prices Rising As New Year Starts

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Gasoline pump. (Credit: Miguel Gutierrez/Getty Images)

Gasoline pump. (Credit: Miguel Gutierrez/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – It’s been no holiday for drivers trying to fill up at the pump. Gas prices continue to rise. As of Monday, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in Chicago was $3.51, up 9 cents from a week ago.

As CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports, gas prices are almost 24 cents higher now than a year ago.

Analysts blamed the increase in gas prices on speculators, who fear a drop in oil supplies coupled with a rise in demand.

Motorist Patti Ward said she fills up as little as possible these days and tries not to let the price of gas get her down.

She said she’s at the point where she just accepts the price at the pump, whatever it is.

“I don’t drive my car as much,” she said. “So I save on gas.”

That could be sanity-saving, considering 2011 saw the highest yearly price per gallon average ever.

Patrick DeHaan, a petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, said prices in 2012 could be even higher.

“I think it’s gonna be an ugly year,” DeHaan said. “Prices are becoming a lot more volatile. Demand for oil is going up in the world and I think that’s making one of the biggest changes here is that demand is rising.”

The rise in demand is not coming from the U.S., but from countries like China. Adding to oil concerns right now is recent talk from Iran that it might cut supply.

“I think a lot of it is fear. There’s not much else to explain it; a lot of fear. And if we bring out the s-word that everybody’s familiar with, ‘speculation’ is certainly dominating the market,” DeHaan said.

That speculation has been causing the rapid rise and occasional gas price drops. It’s something drivers have to live with.

“I watch probably too much television and I do sort of believe that speculation drives (prices) more than it should,” said driver Larry Teolis. “But I don’t know how any way else to control it.”

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