Gas prices cool slightly |

Gas prices cool slightly

Cliff Thompson

EAGLE COUNTY – There’s good news about the price of gasoline. It’s getting a little cheaper per-gallon as prices gently subside from historic highs. For motorists the rollback provides a classic example of circumstantial relativity. The bad news, usually accompanied by unprintable words, occurs when you compare what you paid last year at this time to the price this year.A gallon of unleaded last year in Vail was priced at $2.16 a gallon. This year it’s $2.57 – 41 cents per-gallon, or 19 percent higher than last year. But that’s 2 cents a gallon cheaper than it was a month ago, according to statistics compiled by Colorado AAA, a motorist advocacy group. It’s even more depressing to realize that in May 2003, the price was $1.85 a gallon, or just 72 percent of the cost this year. Prices downvalley in Eagle are slightly cheaper with per-gallon prices at $2.40.The national average price per-gallon this week was $2.20 a gallon, and the Colorado average, according the AAA, was $2.22.8.But with peak driving season approaching, when demand for fuel peaks, one industry expert expects to see prices increase an additional 30 cents or 40 cents per-gallon.”I think $2.50 a gallon is a probability and higher than that a likelihood,” said Bryant Gimlin, an energy risk manager for Gray Oil, a Denver wholesaler. “We’re at a plateau for the short term. There’s high demand and there are still prospects for higher demand. That’s going to keep prices going up.”With fuel refineries operating at or near peak capacity, Gimlin said any interruption – a refinery fire, terrorism attack or natural disaster – will cause the price of fuel to soar.”Occasionally we’ll see spikes of up to $3 a gallon,” he said.Increasing global demand for fuel, and competition between major fuel users, is driving the high prices, said Mary Greer of Colorado AAA.It’s possible there could be additional price rollbacks, according to AAA. “If the oil price remains below the psychologically important level of $50 per barrel, consumers could see retail gasoline prices drop by as much as ten cents per gallon as the Memorial Day holiday weekend approaches,” the organization wrote in a press release.Staff Writer Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 450, or, Colorado

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