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WASHINGTON -- U.S. consumers face rising retail gasoline prices this holiday week, as a Venezuelan oil strike and soaring crude oil prices sent pump prices higher for a second straight week, the Energy Department said.
The average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline rose nearly 4 cents over the last week to $1.40. U.S gasoline costs are up about 30 cents a gallon from a year ago, based on a weekly survey of more than 800 service stations by the department's Energy Information Administration.
The Energy Department last week allowed firms to delay delivering millions of barrels of crude to the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an attempt to ensure adequate U.S. oil supplies during the Venezuela crisis. Republican lawmaker, Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), in a letter to Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham urged the Bush administration to allow oil companies to borrow crude oil from the strategic reserve to sustain their refinery output. The administration gave no indication of whether it would act on the request. Two large U.S. refineries will run out of crude oil supplies by the end of the month unless some stockpiled crude was released, the letter said.
The national price for cleaner-burning reformulated gasoline, which is sold at about one-third of the gas stations in cities and smoggier areas, jumped 1.4 cents to $1.46 a gallon, EIA said.
The New England states had the most expensive regular unleaded gasoline over the last week, with the average price in the region up slightly to $1.47 a gallon.
Among cities, San Francisco kept its top spot in fuel costs, though the price was down slightly to $1.63 a gallon.