Gas prices see another big rise in 2012

The New Year hasn’t been good for gasoline prices.

Gasoline prices rose 8 cents in a week to $3.20 in Houston. Nationally, gas prices are up 7 cents to $3.38, and Texas saw the same 7-cent rise to $3.22.

According to the travel agency, Texarkana has the most expensive gas prices in the state at $3.27, and El Paso has the lowest at $3.04.

With those price hikes, Texans are paying 29 cents more than a year ago. Texans paid $2.93 and Houston drivers paid $2.91 last year.

Since the New Year, gas prices have been steadily rising every week. Prices jumped 6 cents in Houston last week, and analysts have said prices will continue to rise through the spring.

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Tom Kloza, chief analyst for Oil Price Information Service, said gasoline prices will likely build through the spring before tailing off in the final months of the 2012.Kloza said prices could rise between the $3.75 to $4.50 range this spring.

But Kloza said high gasoline prices likely wouldn’t last for long.

“We will see a gasoline spike related to the refinery issues, but the spike won’t last,” he wrote in an email.

However, former Shell Oil president John Hofmeister has a much more doomsday opinion.

Hofmeister said gasoline prices could hit the $5 mark this year because of rising tensions with Iran, refineries closing in the northeast and ongoing fallout from the Gulf of Mexico moratorium.

“I predicted $5 gasoline by the end of 2012 two years ago,” said Hofmeister, who is the founder of the non-profit Citizens for Affordable Energy. “I see no reason to back down from that prediction. I hope I am wrong. All the factors are out there for a supply crunch.”

Hofmeister said consumers are likely to see $5 gas unless the U.S. economy slips into another recession.

“We never had prices as high as we did in 2011,” he said. “And 2012 is going to be worst. Nothing has changed.”

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