Weather, war cause gas costs to rise

Oil and natural gas prices have recently been on the rise due to war-related issues with Iraq and a high demand for fuel during the recent months of cold weather.

An article in the Seattle-Post Intelligencer says, “Looming war with Iraq and labor unrest in oil-rich Venezuela are combining to force the price of crude oil, and thus refined gasoline, higher, industry officials said. Impending war and the strike help explain why the national average price for a gallon of unleaded gas rose to $1.66 yesterday from $1.13 a year ago, according to the American Automobile Association.”

Not only have gasoline prices been on the rise, but the price of natural gas for heating has risen as well. According to an article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, “The cold weather combined with a 35 percent decrease in stored gas and a decline in domestic production last year have steadily pushed natural gas prices to their highest levels in two years.”

The article said most Texas homeowners will see a rise in heating and natural gas costs, and that most North Texas homes are heated with natural gas. The article also said the U.S. Energy Department predicts continued higher natural gas prices at least through the spring, and perhaps longer.

There are many other factors that determine the cost of gasoline, and a report by the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations outlines these.

The report said the price of gasoline paid by consumers at the gasoline pump reflects the cost of crude oil that is purchased by the refiner.

Other factors include the refiner’s processing, distribution costs and profits or losses, the retail distribution, market and stationing operating costs, and federal, state and local taxes.

The cost of crude oil comprises 46 percent of the cost, refining costs and profits comprise 14 percent, and retail distribution, marketing, and station operations comprise 12 percent. Taxes, not including county and local taxes, comprise 28 percent of gasoline prices.

“The price a retailer will charge for gasoline on any given day will reflect prevailing market conditions, including the retail prices of nearby competitors,” the report said.

Students at SHSU gave their opinions about the recent rise in energy prices, and they also explained how they are coping with this change. Many students said they will be driving a lot less, and that higher gas prices have affected some of their plans.

“The rising gasoline prices are causing me to drive less, and I have even changed my spring break plans” freshman Johnny Dodson said. “I believe the prices will go down after the conflict with Iraq.”

Sophomore Susan Westbrook said the increase in the gas prices has caused her to change her driving habits.

“I definitely drive less, now that the price of gasoline has risen,” Westbrook said. “I do a lot more walking.”

Freshman Michael Winters said the price change would limit the number of times he goes home on the weekends.

“Come to think of it,” Winters said, “I never go home anyway, but that’s beside the point.”

Other students said the higher fuel prices don’t have much affect on them.

“Normally, you will see me shredding around on my Haro Zippo BMX bike, and most people don’t even know that I own a car,” junior Jeffrey Bowden said. “I guess the gasoline prices don’t really affect me, because I don’t even drive my car enough for people to know that I own one.”

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