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AAA says gas price to have little effect on summer travel

May 26, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

While some people are complaining about rising gas prices, Don Watson of Newfoundland is not one of them.

"You guys are cheap," Watson said Tuesday of local gas prices.

Watson, in the United States to attend a wedding, was pumping gas at the AC&T on Halfway Boulevard. Gas there was selling for $2 a gallon for regular, $2.08 for mid-grade and $2.16 for premium.

Gasoline is much more expensive in Newfoundland at $1.10 per liter, he said.

The metric equivalent of a gallon is approximately 3.8 liters, which would make the cost of a gallon of gas in Newfoundland $4.18 a gallon.

"We are crying down there, too," he said.

But Newfoundland residents are not as vocal about high gas prices as U.S. residents are, he said.

A few gas pumps away, Robert Reed of Clear Spring said he hasn't changed his driving habits due to the rising price of gas.


"I got to have it," Reed said. "I don't have to like it but we got to take it."

At the Sheetz store on Potomac Street, John Boyer of Frederick, Md., said he has been doing comparison shopping before deciding where to buy gasoline.

"The prices just keep going up," he said.

Gas there was selling for the same prices as at AC&T.

The increasing price of gas does not seem to be affecting Americans' traveling habits, John White, AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman, said.

Consumption of gas is up 4 percent over last year and people continue to stop in at AAA travel offices to get information for trips, he said.

"They are not putting off their vacations," White said.

If a family is making an 800-mile trip, the fact that the total cost of gas for the trip will be $20 more will not change their driving plans, he said.

Connie Welsh of Keedysville, who was getting gas at Sheetz, said her family has stopped using the car on weekends to save gas.

If people expect prices to drop soon, they may be out of luck, White said.

One of the reasons the average price of gas has increased to more than $2 per gallon in Maryland is because the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has cut the production of crude oil, White said.

OPEC is scheduled to meet June 3 and Saudi Arabia has suggested OPEC decide then to increase the production level, White said.

If that does not happen and the production levels remain unchanged then gas prices probably will remain at or above $2 per gallon for the rest of the summer, White said.

In that case, the earliest motorists could expect to see a drop in prices would be in the fall, White said.

There is one interesting trend emerging from the gas price increases, he said: People are choosing to buy smaller sport utility vehicles instead of the larger models.

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