Gas Prices Skyrocketing -- But Why?

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Tue, March 6 2012 at 6:20 PM, Updated: Tue, March 6 2012 at 9:12 PM

Last year, big oil companies made record profits - totaling about $137-billion.

Experts agree, it's an industry that's making a lot of money, but what they don't agree on? The reasons behind skyrocketing gas prices.

Everyone's Got A Theory

Drivers in Medford have their own theories.

"I think gas prices are up because of the problems going on in the middle east," said Jacksonville resident, Diane Meeds.

Medford resident, Don Hampton said, "I think it's politicians that are playing games."

"If they keep climbing up, climbing up, somebody isn't doing their job," added Chris Moye of Medford.

But different experts have different theories on what's causing the high gas prices.

Volatility Means Higher Gas Prices?

One idea? It could be instability in volatile places like Nigeria, Venezuela and Iran -- all countries where we get our oil.

But critics say in reality, oil has been coming from areas of conflict for decades.

What About Supply and Demand?

Becky Lonctot, a Regional Manager for AAA in the Valley said there's no specific reason for the rising prices.

"There are a lot of factors that go into play, starting with supply and demand."

However, as of last year, with Americans driving about 100 billion miles less than the previous year, you'd think prices at the pump would go down.

While it might not be true nationally, globally, demand for oil is up... and so are prices.

How Washington Refinery Impacts the Valley

Here in Medford, supply is a little more scarce as well.

"In February, the refinery in Washington where we get the majority of our fuel from had a fire, so production has slowed down," said Lonctot.

The refinery fire, no doubt, adds to our high gas prices in the Valley.

The Issue of Speculators

Still other experts say it's the so called "speculators" who are driving up cost. They're people buying future oil at prices agreed on today, encouraging oil executives to hoard their supply in the hopes it will sell for more in the future.

Want Cheap Gas? Go Online Before Heading Out the Door.

If you would like to know where to find the least expensive gas in your area, go to AAA's Fuel Price Finder website.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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