WASHINGTON - For the second week in a row, the national price for gasoline hit a record high, giving U.S. drivers no relief at the pump.
The average price of a gallon of gas rose a penny to $1.713, the Energy Department said yesterday.
The latest fuel price, based on the Energy Information Administrations weekly survey of 800 service stations nationwide, is up 22 cents from a year ago. It marked the second consecutive week that a record fuel price was reached after breaking the old record of $1.68 a gallon set in June.
The departments statistical agency has forecast that the national gasoline price could climb as high as $1.75 a gallon this summer, and there are fears that some parts of the country could see prices as high as $3 a gallon.
Although gasoline inventories have increased in the past few weeks, below-average fuel supplies and high consumer demand have pushed up prices. The most recent data from EIA show U.S. gasoline supplies at 200 million barrels, down 8 million barrels from a year ago. One barrels holds 42 gallons.
The agency has warned that a disruption in supplies from a pipeline problem or refinery shutdown could cause price spikes this summer.
Motorists in the Midwest continued to pay the most for gasoline, with prices in the region averaging $1.813 a gallon, up almost a penny.