|Updated: 2/29/2012 11:31 am
||Published: 2/28/2012 6:21 pm
It seems every time you pull up to a gas pump lately the price is higher than the last time you filled up.
The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded in Tulsa was $3.38 Tuesday. The national average was $3.68. But this time last year, Tulsans were paying $3.10 a gallon, while the rest of the country paid $3.36.
There is also a big difference in the price for a barrel of crude oil. Tuesday the price was $108 per barrel. A year ago it was $10 cheaper.
Which begs the question: why?
"I think it's the Middle East," one Tulsa driver told FOX23 News.
"Stuff going on in the Middle East," another driver agreed. "And then just the lack of refineries here."
"It kind of makes me a little upset and mad," another driver said.
QuikTrip spokesman Mike Thornbrugh says there are four major components that affect the cost of gasoline.
"The cost of crude oil, the taxes that are levied by state and federal, refining and distribution, and then you have, of course, your overhead," Thornbrugh said.
The biggest of those factors, though, is crude oil prices.
"With the cost of crude oil, it makes up probably 72 percent of the total cost of the gasoline," Thornbrugh said.
So why is crude so high? There are a lot of reasons, including tension in the Middle East and around the world, and an overwhelming rise in demand in developing countries like India and China.
"Right now what you're seeing is record level of speculators getting into the marketplace, betting on this commodity, most likely that it's going to go up," Thornbrugh said.
"Well, I don't like it, but what can you do," another Tulsa driver said.
The taxes don't really fluctuate very often, so that's not a big factor in gas prices. Neither is the cost of business, because gas stations have very little say over how much they can charge these days.
Then there's refinery and distribution costs. This time of year refineries have to switch to a cleaner-burning summer blend of gas.
"When these refineries shut down to get ready for that, it takes a lot of supply out of the equation for a short period of time," Thornbrugh said.
So, after the switch is complete, the price should logically go down, right? Wrong.
"It's a more expensive gasoline, unfortunately," Thornbrugh said.
That leaves drivers all over feeling the pinch.
"The gas prices go up, the grocery prices go up, wages aren't going up," one man told FOX23 News.
"I don't know what we're going to do," another man said. "Do you?"
Unfortunately, nobody has all the answers. But The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that crude oil prices appear to have reached their peak at $108 a barrel. The report explains that speculators realize that if gas prices get too high people will stop buying gas.
Hopefully that means prices at the pump will soon start going down, or at least stop going up.