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February 03. 2013 9:20PM

Number of factors contributing to rise in gas prices

MANCHESTER - The cost of filling up is going up - quickly.

Fuel prices jumped by an average of about 13 cents last week and are up 17 cents from where they were a week ago.

Whether it's gasoline, diesel or home heating fuel, consumers took quite a financial hit from the end of January to the opening week of February.

"Typically we start to see a spring rally around late February or early March," said Pat Moody, spokesman for AAA of Northern New England.

"If this is a spring rally, it's coming a little bit earlier than we've seen in the past."

According to AAA, the national average for regular unleaded on Friday was $3.46 per gallon. It was $3.33 the week before and $3.29 at the end of December.

In New Hampshire, the average price jumped overnight from $3.496 Thursday to $3.545 for a gallon of regular. The state average for the previous week was $3.40.

Bob Sculley, president of the New Hampshire Motor Transport Association, said a number of factors combined have led to the price spike. Some refineries are shutting down for maintenance, the price of crude oil has gone up and there has been a supply shortage in California, meaning fuel has to be diverted from other areas of the country to meet the need, Sculley said.

"It is going up. We're just not sure how high it's going," Sculley said. "I don't think it's going up astronomically."

Sculley is also executive director of the Oil Heat Council of New Hampshire. He said consumers trying to heat their homes are going to be paying more unless they locked into a lower rate before the season.

According to the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, the average credit price for heating oil in the state was $3.84 per gallon Jan. 28 - before gasoline and diesel prices jumped.

"The root causes of the increases are the same for both," Sculley said.

Sculley expected this week's price to be higher, though he wasn't sure how much.

"It goes up and down. A couple years ago it was high as four-something a gallon, then the bottom dropped out and it was down to two-something. Here we are at three-whatever," Sculley said. "Prices change every day."

dalden@unionleader.com


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