Gas Hits New Record Highs

Energy Dept.: Gas now matches March 1981 inflation-adjusted all-time high price.

ByDANIEL ARNALL <br/> ABC NEWS Business Unit

May 21, 2007 &#151; -- For the second week in a row, gas prices have reached record highs.

According to the government's weekly survey, the price of the average gallon of regular unleaded gasoline now stands at $3.22. That is 12 cents higher than last week's price.

The Energy Department said retail gas prices are now — for the second week in a row — at a nominal record high.

With this week's increase, the price of gasoline is now 11 percent higher than its level a year ago ($2.89), and matches the highest inflation-adjusted price ever recorded in the United States, which came during the gas crisis back in March 1981. At that time, the price was $1.42, but in 2007 dollars, it becomes $3.22.

Customers in every region of the country now pay more than $3 a gallon — the first time in history that this has happened.

Californians — and others on the West Coast who have paid the highest prices for gasoline — saw a slight reduction in pump prices during the past seven days.

Residents of the Gulf Coast — who have traditionally paid the least for gasoline — continue to do so but saw a steep 6 percent increase in pump prices in the past week.

A difficult period at the nation's refineries has pushed the national supply of gasoline to levels that are much lower than the average for this time of year. Low supply right before the beginning of the summer driving season is causing the price to jump to new record highs.

Traders are taking the news to heart, driving up the price for oil. Monday, crude in New York ended the day up $1.33 to $66.27 a barrel. This is well below the record price of $77.03 set on July 14, 2006.

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