Remember those tumbling gasoline prices earlier this summer?
As you certainly have noticed by now, the cost of buying gasoline has soared again. And some analysts think prices will go even higher before leveling off.
The outlook for the next few weeks is grim, said David Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas.
North Carolina gas prices reached a 2012 peak of $3.91 a gallon on April 6, then began a steady decline until bottoming out at $3.18 on July 4. At that point, analysts were predicting a continued decline, perhaps to $3 a gallon.
But the opposite happened. Prices have soared, in reaction to speculation by traders on futures markets.
The latest AAA survey showed the state average for a gallon of regular gas in North Carolina is $3.63. Thats 2 cents higher than last year at this time, and the price has soared 21 cents in August.
South Carolina prices are no different. After reaching a low of $2.91 on July 3, the average is now $3.41 a gallon -- a penny more than this time in 2012. South Carolina prices have climbed 19 cents a gallon in August.
Parsons said motorists typically get a break in late summer, when gas prices begin falling. But not this year.
Speculation in oil futures is driving the price up every day, he said. The outlook for a fall price decline is bleak at this time.
Parsons said prices are being sent higher by several factors, including:
-- Saber-rattling in the Mideast, where Iran has revived threats of blocking the Strait of Hormuz.
-- NOAAs recent updated hurricane forecast, with meteorologists increasing the number of storms expected this season. Tropical storms or hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico cause prices to skyrocket.
-- The Midwest drought, which has sent the price of corn soaring. Corn is used to produce ethanol, and U.S. gasoline is required by law to contain at least 10 percent ethanol.