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Bloomberg: U.S. Gasoline Pump Price Rises to $3.07 a Gallon, Lundberg Says

EXTRACT: A sulfur plant at Royal Dutch Shell Plc.’s refinery in Martinez, California, went offline May 2, according to a report on a state-administered Web site. The Martinez refinery, located near San Francisco, can process about 156,000 barrels of crude oil a day, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

By Dan Thomas

(Bloomberg) — U.S. gasoline at the pump rose 20 cents during the past two weeks to $3.07 a gallon, the first time the price has been above $3 since Aug. 11, Trilby Lundberg said, citing her survey of 7,000 filling stations nationwide.

The increase came as refinery shutdowns for repairs reduced inventories at a time when supplies would normally rise before the summer driving season, which begins next month. Wholesale gasoline futures traded in New York rose above $2.44 a gallon on April 30, the highest since May 11 last year.

“After weeks of refining capacity problems, in the past two weeks, there were at least 12 more incidents here in the U.S. and around the world that have tightened gasoline supply,” Lundberg said in an interview. “Surely this time it has to be the end of the rise” in gasoline prices.

In its separate survey, AAA said on its Web site on May 4 that the national average price for regular gasoline at the pump rose 2.1 cents to $3.012 a gallon as of May 3. The record is $3.057 on Sept. 5, 2005. AAA is the nation’s largest motoring organization.

U.S. inventories of gasoline fell for a 12th consecutive week, to 193 million barrels in the week ended April 26, the Energy Department reported on May 2. Supplies are the lowest since October 2005, when almost 19 percent of U.S. refining capacity was idled because of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Demand for gasoline over the past four weeks was 1.6 percent higher than the same period a year earlier at 9.3 million barrels a day, according to the Energy Department. U.S. gasoline demand usually peaks during summer, between Memorial Day at the end of May and the Labor Day holiday in early September.

Refinery Problems

Refinery problems have kept gasoline inventories from increasing.

On April 24, BP Plc, Europe’s second-largest oil company, said its Whiting, Indiana, refinery cut production to about 200,000 barrels a day, or half its capacity, following a the failure of a unit in March and a subsequent power loss.

A sulfur plant at Royal Dutch Shell Plc.’s refinery in Martinez, California, went offline May 2, according to a report on a state-administered Web site. The Martinez refinery, located near San Francisco, can process about 156,000 barrels of crude oil a day, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

Crude oil futures in New York had the biggest weekly decline since early January, partly because supplies in the midcontinent are backing up as a result of the refinery closures.

The crude oil futures price for June delivery fell $1.26, or 2 percent, to $61.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on May 4. Futures are 1.4 higher so far this year.

The highest average price for self-serve regular gasoline was $3.49 a gallon in San Francisco, Lundberg said today. The lowest was in Charleston, South Carolina, with $2.80. On New York’s Long Island, the price was $3.18 a gallon.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Thomas in New York at [email protected] .

Last Updated: May 6, 2007 15:59 EDT

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