Dennis menaces price at pump
EAGLE COUNTY – Strange as it seems a tiny weather disturbance that swirled off the east coast of Africa two weeks ago could soon more suck money out of your wallet here in Eagle County.It’s now Hurricane Dennis, packing winds of 150 mph, and churning over Cuba into the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico, with landfall expected in U.S. this weekend. Regardless of where it hits, the storm is expected to shut down the refineries in Houston and New Orleans. Those refineries supply a substantial percentage of the country’s refining capability and their time offline is expected to drive the price of fuel higher.”Those refineries are in the process of shutting down now,” said Mary Greed of Colorado AAA, an automobile advocacy group. “What happens to price will depend on how long they are offline.”A trio of hurricanes that hit Florida and the Gulf Coast last year and interrupted refining caused gas prices to jump by as much as 10 cents a gallon.But the weather isn’t the only thing driving up fuel prices. Increasing global demand driven by an increasingly industrialized China, as well as geopolitical unrest in oil producing countries, are helping to drive prices, too, experts said.Crude oil was selling at better than $60 per 42-gallon barrel at close of trading Friday – its highest price ever. Greer said it usually take 45 to 60 days for crude prices to show at the pump.A gallon of unleaded fuel in Vail now costs $2.50; it’s $2.40 in Eagle. The statewide price of gas now rests at $2.22.5 a gallon. That’s not expected to last. Fuel experts like Rob Spencer of Associated Energy Services of Denver is predicting $3-a-gallon gas by Christmas.Staff Writer Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 450, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colo.