Gas prices on the rise

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Gas prices are expected to continue to rise as the summer driving season starts and oil supplies are reduced.

In its monthly gas price survey, the American Automobile Association found prices up 12 cents in Carson City since last month to an average of $1.40 for regular unleaded gasoline.

Although Carson City clearly led the state in increases, Nevada's average price is also up. According to the survey, Nevada's price is $1.34, or 8 cents higher than February.

Reno's average price was up 11 cents to $1.38, with Sparks up 8 cents to $1.33.

The auto insurer is pegging the price increases to the annual switch to a more expensive summer-blend gasoline. Typically, the arrival of summer and higher gas prices go hand-in-hand.

"We're seeing refineries switch over to warm weather gasoline blends in preparation for the summer driving season," said AAA spokeswoman Jennifer Mack. "That traditionally signals the arrival of higher prices."

Volume in oil production is also starting to come down after a sustained period of high-volume production in the Middle East. Tensions in that part of the country, specifically the specter of American military strikes in Iraq and the increasingly violent Israeli-Palestinian conflict, may also be behind rising prices.

Crude oil, most of which comes from the OPEC nations in the Middle East, accounts for 36 percent of the retail price of gasoline, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

But despite uncertainty on the horizon, prices are still a far cry from last spring's spike.

"Even with the increase over the past month, gas prices remain well below the levels we were experiencing last year at this time," Mack said.

The AAA gas price survey represents average prices tracking credit card transactions at 60,000 self-serve stations surveyed nationwide.


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