Gasoline prices could hit $4 per gallon in April

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 29, 2012

By Nathan Hardin
If you’re waiting for gas prices to drop before filling up your tank, don’t.
Tom Crosby, vice president of communications for AAA Carolinas, said prices have risen 44 cents this year and as oil refineries begin switching from winter fuel blends to summer blends, the delays could cost motorists even more at the pumps.
After 21 straight days of increases, the national average for regular unleaded was $3.72 on Tuesday, the highest ever in February. Crosby said he expects prices to hit $4 in April.
Drivers at Salisbury gas stations Tuesday afternoon said they can’t afford it.
Virginia Wells, a Salisbury resident, said she can “only hope” prices stop climbing.
“I make minimum wage. My husband just died. I gotta work,” Wells said.
If gas prices continue to rise, she said, she won’t have money to leave the house.
“I’ll probably park my car and just start walking,” she said, laughing. “There will be more bicycle riders, people staying home. People won’t be going nowhere.”
According to gasbuddy. com — which posts gas prices reported by drivers — a gallon of regular unleaded ranged from $3.62 to $3.79 across Rowan County on Tuesday afternoon. The average price across the state was $3.75, up 26 cents from a month ago.
Heather Nabors, who commutes from Greensboro two days a week to teach dance at Catawba College, said she hopes classes end before prices peak.
She also hopes they fall before August.
“It’s literally almost taken everything I’m making to get to work, and that’s just two days a week,” Nabors said.
“This semester is over in April,” she said, “hopefully before gas gets to $5 a gallon.”
Anthony Ferrens, who was pumping gas at a Hess Station on East Innes Street Tuesday, called the rising prices “ridiculous.”
“If it gets any worse I might as well take one tire off the car and put it in the trunk,” he said, “because I don’t have any plans on going anywhere.”
Motorists in North Carolina have driven 6 percent less so far in 2012, Crosby said.
Oil refineries have been switching from their winter fuel blend to the summer blend, he said, earlier than usual this year to prepare for a summer surge.
But the vacation season remains a question mark for experts working to predict this year’s trends.
“How will our driving habits change?” Crosby said will be one of the factors. “Will we have an appetite to drive more or less as the summer comes? That has a lot to do with the price of gas.”