Serving Arizona State University Online Since 1995  Current Issue: Tuesday, November 27, 2007





Rising gas prices pinching students' pockets

 by Dan O'Connor
 published on Tuesday, November 27, 2007

<b>PIPE DREAMS:</b> Gas hauler Ernie Medina of Peoria packs gear into his 8,700 gallon truck after filling the tanks at the Shell station at the corner of University Drive and Rural Road in Tempe Monday evening./issues/news/702906
Morgan Bellinger
PIPE DREAMS: Gas hauler Ernie Medina of Peoria packs gear into his 8,700 gallon truck after filling the tanks at the Shell station at the corner of University Drive and Rural Road in Tempe Monday evening.


With gas prices hovering around $3 a gallon and expected to rise across the Valley, students are either resorting to different means of winter break transportation, or are suffering a hit to their holiday funds.

East Valley cities are averaging $2.99 per gallon for regular, unleaded gasoline up $0.77 from last year at the same time, according to the Arizona AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Scottsdale reported $3.06, while Mesa wavered around $3.01 and Phoenix lingered at $3, according to the report.

Experts said they predict the daily reports, (gathered by the Oil Price Information Service), to rise due to an all-time high cost for crude oil.

Monday's price for crude oil was suspended at $97.77 a barrel and is expected to climb, said Denton Cinquegrana, OPIS West Coast market editor.

"I think we're getting close to seeing (crude oil prices) top out, but even if we do see prices fall, it won't be significant," Cinquegrana said.

At this time of the year, gas prices usually bottom out, but the rising cost of oil will continue to plague the physical market because of a lack of U.S. oil refineries, he said.

"It's really counterintuitive to what you'd expect this time of year with gas prices," he said. "But we really don't have the right refining market to meet the demands in our economy, which continues to hold strong."

There may be no relief in sight for holiday travelers, he added.

Tracy Clark, an economist at ASU's WP Carey School of Business, said another strain on prices comes from a U.S. market concerned with Middle Eastern conflict.

But as long as the economy continues to thrive, costs will remain stagnant and relief won't come soon, he added.

"If you're driving by car, you'll have to start finding a buddy to share the costs with, because (prices are) going to be kind of nasty," Clark said. "Or just find a video set-up and plan on doing it virtually."

For Cameron Cohen, a communications senior, the spike in fuel costs comes just in time for his annual trip home to Los Angeles for winter vacation.

He'll have to pawn his textbooks just to make it home, he said.

"It'll cost me over $100 just to get home," Cohen said. "And I have to factor in the money I sell my books back for just to get there."

Driving a BMW 528i doesn't help Cohen with his financial bind, either he'll be paying close to $3.30 a gallon for the premium gas his car requires.

Andy Boak, a communications senior, said he'd be enjoying his Christmas break under a palm tree in Las Vegas.

After Boak figured in the price of gas with the costs of a Vegas vacation, he said he quickly made the decision to fly.

"Round trip (flying) is only 100 bucks," he said. "And I sure as hell ain't paying any more than that to drive."

Boak said working two days a week as a waiter makes it hard to make ends meet, especially as a full-time student.

He said he dreads filling up his Kia Rio.

"Every time I fill up the damn tank, I see all my cash go out the window," he said.

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