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    Gasoline Prices on the Rise Again

    Low inventory, holiday, blackout all factors, experts say.

    NEW YORK -- Just as millions of Americans are about to hit the road for the Labor Day weekend holiday, gasoline prices have risen by, in some cases, as much as 15 cents a gallon.

    Greg Beheler, an analyst for AAA of Southern West Virginia said it's more a case of supply and demand. AAA surveys show gasoline prices have risen 8 cents a gallon in a month, according to The Charleston Gazette.. "We're on the verge of Labor Day travel," he said. "We're looking at strong numbers, the highest in nine years. As you know, gasoline, crude oil, is a commodity. With high demand comes higher prices. I've also been hearing energy analysts talking about filling our strategic reserves, which takes some supply out of the market."

    "But it seems every year at this time gasoline prices spike a little bit. It's almost customary. Motorists almost expect to pay a little more on holidays. It really doesn't deter traveling. It's only a few more dollars for a trip. I'm not sure it really affects motorists. I don't think that's an indicator of gouging. It's demand."

    Jan Vineyard of the West Virginia Oil Marketers and Grocers Association, which represents convenience stores and independent grocers, refuted the theory that prices often rise during holidays. "That's what we often hear," she said. "I don't know that's always the case."

    The Energy Information Agency releases a report every Wednesday, Vineyard said. This week it reported gas prices have raised 5.7 cents over the last week, Aug. 11-18. "There's a couple of reasons prices are going up. Number one, inventories were already low. The blackouts caused havoc on supply. A lot of our supply comes from Ashland, Ky. A lot of that had to go elsewhere."

    One problem particular for West Virginia is that the state is not served by a gasoline pipeline, the report said. Most of the gas arrives by barge at the Marathon terminal in Charleston. The Marathon terminal has run out of gas several times this month, according to Vineyard, forcing tanker trucks to drive to Kentucky or Roanoke, Va. to pick up gas. "That ultimately raises prices at the pumps," she said.

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