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By Samuel R. Avro on Apr 5, 2009 with no responses

Gas Prices Creep Above $2 a Gallon

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The average national price for a gallon of gasoline has risen back above $2.00 per gallon for the first time this year, the Energy Department said last week.

The last time gasoline was above $2.00 a gallon in the U.S. was on November 17.

According to the American Automobile Association, which conducts daily surveys of up to 100,000 gas stations across the country, the national average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline was $2.04 on Sunday, up 10 cents in the past month.

But as storage levels remain at extremely high levels, gas prices aren’t expected to continue rising in the short term.

“We’ll see some modest drops very short term,” Tom Kloza, energy analyst at the Oil Price Information Service, told Consumer Energy Report. However, he said, “I’m not sure what we’ll see first, $1.99 gal national average or $2.09 gallon.”

Gas prices climbed 16 cents, or 8.5 percent, from February to April.

That’s the smallest rise in both actual dollar terms and percentage increase during the two-month period since 2004, according to Energy Department data.

Gasoline inventories rose by 2.2 million barrels, or 1 percent, to 216.8 million barrels, which is 1 percent above year-ago levels, according to data released by the Energy Department on Wednesday. Crude oil supplies in the U.S. saw a rise of 3 million barrels, to 359.4 million barrels.

April is traditionally a weak month for crude oil prices, and therefore, says Kloza, “it’s tough to make a strong case for a big April jump.” If anything, it’s “easier to make a case for flat prices, or even a slight ease.”

Alaska and Hawaii are paying the most for gasoline, at $2.52 and $245 a gallon respectively. The cheapest average gas, and the only states paying below $1.90 a gallon, are New Jersey and Wyoming, at $1.87 per gallon.