NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. average retail gasoline prices rose over the last two weeks and they could go even higher, according to an industry analyst.
The national average for self-serve regular unleaded gas was nearly $1.80 a gallon in the two weeks ended April 9, up 2-1/2 cents per gallon, according to the nationwide Lundberg survey of about 8,000 gas stations.
The price has risen 31-1/2 cents per gallon since Dec. 19. The current price is about 13 cents higher than one year earlier, according to the survey, which was released on Sunday.
"The continuous rises since late December can generally be attributed to strengthening crude oil prices and strengthening U.S. demand for gasoline, supported by economic growth," said survey editor Trilby Lundberg.
At $2.22 per gallon, San Diego had the highest average price for self-serve regular unleaded gas. Tulsa, Oklahoma had the lowest price -- $1.59 per gallon.
Lundberg said a third important factor is the strain on the U.S. refining system from tight capacity, especially in light of increasingly costly environmental protection regulations on the several gasoline formulas. Some of these regulations become more costly with supply penalties as the peak driving season of the summer months approaches.
"Unless crude oil prices slip significantly there's a good chance that gasoline prices could rise even further in the short term,!"! she said.