Gas prices jump nationwide

Alvin Benton raced to the gas station to fill up his car. When he got there he realized the gas was 10 cents more than it was the last time he filled up.

“It’s crazy,” said the 22-year-old political science graduate student from Atlanta, pumping regular unleaded gas into his car at $1.69 cents a gallon. “Next time I’m going to get it in Georgia.”

Many in the area have been shocked by recent increases in the gas prices. According to the AAA Monthly Fuel Gauge Report, in January gas prices jumped 8 cents per gallon in Florida since mid-December. The average self-serve regular unleaded price increased 12 cents nationwide to an average $1.61 per gallon.

Tallahassee, which has the second highest unleaded average gas price in the state, rose to an average $1.69 per gallon for regular unleaded, $1.79 per gallon for mid-grade unleaded and $1.891 per gallon for premium unleaded. Diesel average prices rose to $1.586.

“Gas prices are going up all over the nation mainly because of the war,” said Yoli Buss, director of Traffic Safety with AAA Auto Club South. “The prices started to go up before because of the oil strikes in Venezuela. Since they (Venezuelan strikers) have went back to work, we should see more oil from them and hopefully the prices will start to go down … but as of now, we don’t know yet.”

Jim Smith, president and CEO of Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, Inc. disagrees.

“I haven’t seen prices move this rapidly in the 25 years I’ve been in the industry,” Smith said. “We have plenty of crude oil and there isn’t a problem with supply. Oil traders are using war as an excuse to raise prices in order to make money.”

“If it was a shortage, it would be understandable for the price increase, but the supply and demand is pretty level,” he said.

The United States gets 14 percent of its crude oil from eastern countries. Smith said that the prices would probably creep up another 10 to 20 cents within the next few weeks, especially if the country goes to war. He said there would be another 20 cent-jump, and then prices will drop rapidly.

“Something similar happened in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War, but we were more dependent on eastern oil then than we are now,” Smith said. “History has a way of repeating itself; we would see that if we were to learn from it.”

“Unfortunately, those who are on the lower income scale is getting hurt the most,” he said.

The rising gas prices have also become an area of concern among students.

“The increasing gas prices is definitely a problem because I am in college and money is limited,” said Tiffany Moore, 20, a junior computer information systems student from Jacksonville. “My car takes a lot of gas, and I just don’t have enough money to keep putting gas in my tank.”

Other students express the same sentiment.

“I understand that the jumps are due to the possibility of war, but it’s still not good,” said Nepoleon Collins, 21, a junior education student from Belle Glade. “One day it’s this price, then the next day it’s something else.

“It’s just ridiculous.”

DeAnna L. Carpenter can be reached at