Gas Tops $5 in Orlando



(Douglas A. McIntyre)    The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline nationwide has risen to $2.04 from $1.75 a month ago, as crude has moved from $29 to over $40 a barrel. In a few places in the United States, gas prices are double that national average. Most are in California. However, the stations with the highest prices are near Orlando, where the price is above $5 a gallon.

Two stations near the Orlando International Airport have prices of $5.99 and $5.95 respectively. One argument for the high prices is that they are near the entrance to the airport. There is no better explanation. Another two stations in Miami have prices of $3.69.

There is good reason for the high price of gas in California. Not so much with Florida. The average price for a gallon of regular in California is the highest in the country at $2.80, according to GasBuddy. The price in Florida is $2.07.

On a national basis, the average will go higher, and perhaps much higher. The perception that crude sold off much too quickly is among the reasons for the recent rise. While Saudi Arabia continues to pump oil with impunity, most other OPEC members have been more conservative as the drop has hurt their national economies. Demand is less certain. The Chinese economy has slowed but is still robust, with its gross domestic product rising by nearly 7%. It remains the largest oil-importing country in the world. Recent data show that it still has a huge appetite for crude.

Oil inventory is not the only factor. Proximity to refineries is also an issue. The average gas price in Louisiana is $1.86. In Oklahoma it is $1.83 and in Texas $1.89. All are near the huge refineries south of Houston and on the Gulf of Mexico, which itself is dotted by deepwater oil drilling platforms.

Gasoline taxes by state are another factor. The average nationwide is $0.48 per gallon, according to the American Petroleum Institute. In Oklahoma it is $0.35. Pennsylvania is the highest at $0.69. And Florida is near the top of the list, with gas taxes and levees that total $0.55 per gallon.

And note that a new analyst forecast has oil headed for $50 a barrel. See why, as well as some stocks the analyst thinks could benefit big from the move higher, at 3 Top Oil Stocks to Buy for a Return to $50 Oil.

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