Va. gas prices leaping : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

April 20, 2001 6:46 am

Va. gas prices leaping

As Virginia gas prices hit all-time highs yesterday, local drivers were spinning their wheels to find the best price.

By JOBY NAHAS The Free Lance-Star Date published: Fri, 04/20/2001

Louis Paradise made a decision while pumping gas into his Crown Victoria yesterday:

No family trip to Myrtle Beach this year.

Virginia's average price per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline matched an all-time high of $1.56 yesterday--an average price last recorded on July 5.

That increase is driving Paradise, a retired government worker, to curb plans for long-distance trips since he can hardly afford the gas he needs for everyday errands.

"When you're on a retired budget, this extra gas means something," said the 74-year-old Paradise. At $1.41 a gallon, his $12 purchase bought him just over eight gallons of gasoline.

"It hurts us. It really does."

The state average of $1.56 is a seven-cent increase since last Friday, said Randy Green, spokesman for the AAA in Richmond.

The steep prices probably won't fall anytime soon, he said.

Because of a crude-oil supply shortage in the Middle East and the seasonal switch by refineries to more expensive summer-grade fuels, prices have been steadily rising. Crude-oil futures prices climbed about $2 per barrel in the past month to close at $28.24 Tuesday.

Fredericksburg-area retailers yesterday were charging anywhere from the low $1.41 per gallon of regular unleaded--found at Sam's Food Stores on State Route 3 in Spotsylvania--to upwards of $1.66 per gallon in Stafford.

But that's a bargain compared to other areas.

Nationwide, prices have climbed an average of 17 cents over the past month, according to AAA figures. Californians yesterday were paying an average $1.84 per gallon for unleaded regular, and drivers in Hawaii were shelling out $1.95.

Area drivers have been spoiled by low gasoline costs, Green said. As recently at 1999, the average price of regular unleaded was 90 cents per gallon.

"We were overdue for a price hike," he said.

Sam's Food Stores manager Sandra Iqbal said the prices make for fierce convenience store competition.

She cruises the area at 3 a.m. each day for the lowest prices. Then she posts her prices at least a few cents cheaper than nearby Wawa and Crown on Route 3 in Spotsylvania County. Both are well-known destinations for bargain gas shoppers.

"As long as I keep my gas cheaper than everyone else, they'll come here," she said. "They'll still complain, but they'll come."

Sometimes drivers will go for miles to find a cheaper price.

Stafford County resident Susan Richmond said she's driven to Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County to save a few cents per gallon.

Because she commutes to Washington each day, the savings add up, she said.

"There are better prices southbound. When you're going to the mall or something, it's OK. But today I'm not going that way," she said.

Yesterday, she stopped by East Coast on State Route 610 to take advantage of their lower prices. Richmond pumped $22.77 worth of diesel into her Mercedes at $1.49 a gallon.

"This will last me three trips," she said, lifting the pump from her gas tank. "And you know we head up there five times a week."

Five years ago, $20 meant "we could ride forever," she said. "Not anymore."

But the price increase won't drive some customers away from their standby stores.

Tourist Ken Mostello, who was traveling with his family from Massachusetts to Richmond yesterday, was content pay $1.56 per gallon at the Mobil on U.S. 1 to fill up his Ford Explorer. A $1.48-per-gallon price gleamed from a sign at the Shell Station across the street.

The savings potential didn't lure Mostello.

"I'm pretty much a one-brand customer," he said.

-- Martin Thompson (, April 20, 2001


Paid $1.59 a week ago for mid-grade and today paid $1.71 for the same! And it's not even summer!

-- Kitty in Chesapeake VA (, April 20, 2001.

You guys HAVE IT MADE!! $1.85 here for uncruded!! Cheapest gas available!!! Gone up .19 this week alone. Most premium is $2.25 or more. SUV's (Stupid Ugly Vehicles ) are for sale in Droves!! Pickups with v8's are at every intersection FOR SALE! Count your blessings. Geno-ca

-- Geno-Ca (, April 20, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ