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Gas prices skyrocket around United States

Concerns over Iraq, Venezuela raise average cost 11 cents

Concerns over Iraq, Venezuela raise average cost 11 cents

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GAS PRICES
• Anchorage, Alaska - $1.63, up 2 cents
• Atlanta, Georgia - $1.45, up 13 cents
• Boston, Massachusetts - $1.64, up 8 cents
• Charleston, South Carolina - $1.48, up 13 cents
• Chicago, Illinois - $1.70, up 12 cents
• Portland, Maine - $1.60, up 9 cents
Source: Lundberg Survey

CAMARILLO, California (CNN) -- Americans are digging deeper at the gas pumps.

According to a survey released Sunday, the average price of a gallon of gasoline nationwide has gone up more than 11 cents during the past two weeks.

Americans paid an average of $1.60 per gallon of self-serve regular, the Lundberg Survey said. Publisher Trilby Lundberg said that is the highest price at the pump since June 2001.

The price increase is in keeping with the rise in crude oil prices, which have exceeded $35 per barrel -- up more than $8 per barrel during the past two months, Lundberg said.

The "two big reasons," she said, are an oil shortage caused by Venezuela's general strike and international preparations for a possible war in Iraq.

According to the Department of Energy, Venezeula was the fourth-largest exporter of crude oil to the United States in November, before the strike began.

Iraq, with the world's second-largest proven oil reserves, is the ninth-largest exporter to the United States. Concerns about the possible loss of Iraq's supply have affected the price of gasoline because on futures markets, "oil prices rise on fears and perceptions, not just supply and demand," Lundberg said.

Unusually cold weather across large portions of the United States have led to a spike in demand for heating oil, which, like gas, is refined from crude oil, she said.

Gas was cheapest in Phoenix, Arizona, where drivers typically paid $1.44 per gallon. Drivers in California's San Francisco Bay Area paid the most, at $1.82 per gallon. Des Moines, Iowa, had one of the largest increases: up 21 cents to $1.59.

The Lundberg Survey is based on prices that more than 7,000 gas stations nationwide reported Friday.


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