Make us your home page

Gas prices Q&A may help explain why prices could reach $4 a gallon soon

So, gas prices jumped another 12 cents in the past week.

That's not a lot of money, but a little context might inspire questions about those huge oil company profits.

For example, U.S. census data show Pinellas and Hillsborough counties have about 1.7 million people age 18 or older. If even 30 percent of those people fill a common 17-gallon gas tank with regular fuel, that 12 cents quickly becomes a much bigger number.

Like $1 million.

By Monday, AAA reported the national average was $3.77 per gallon for unleaded regular gasoline. In Florida, it was $3.78. With prices on the rise, here are some other frequently asked questions.

When should we expect $4 a gallon gas?

It's hard to say, but AAA spokeswoman Jessica Brady said if prices continue to increase like they have been, it could be as soon as May. A year ago, regular unleaded gas was $2.88 per gallon in Florida. The record average price for regular unleaded gas in Tampa Bay was $4.01 on July 16, 2008.

Is it true that demand is actually decreasing?

Yes. High prices may be part of the reason, but it's not clear. About 70 percent of major gas station chains in the United States reported a drop of 3 percent or more in sales, according to a March survey by the Oil Price Information Service. That's the sharpest drop since gas prices spiked in 2008. Still, decreased demand for fuel in the United States won't really affect gas prices. Worldwide demand is up, and unrest in the Middle East plays a larger role in driving up the prices of oil.

Why have gas stations gone to a more expensive "summer blend?"

They have to. Federal, state and local regulations require stations to use gas blends that are less likely to evaporate in the summer heat and pollute the environment, according to Laurie Falter, an economist with the U.S. Energy Information Administration. "Summer blends" use fewer rapidly evaporating compounds than their "winter blend" counterparts, but cost 5 to 10 cents more per gallon.

Where can I find a bus stop?

In Pinellas, visit for bus schedules. In Hillsborough, visit

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report, which also includes information from the Associated Press.

Gas prices Q&A may help explain why prices could reach $4 a gallon soon 04/11/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 12, 2011 11:57am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. UPS relocates express operations from St. Pete-Clearwater to TIA


    TAMPA — United Parcel Service Inc. is switching airports for its express air operations. Beginning in October, UPS will relocate from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport.

    Beginning in October, UPS will move from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport. [Associated Press file photo]

  2. Richard Corcoran takes aim at public financing of campaigns

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, may not be running for governor — not yet anyway — but his latest idea will get the attention of those who are.

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R- Land O’ Lakes, is proposing an end to public financing of campaigns. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  3. Related Group breaks ground on complex at old Tampa Tribune site

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — When Miami developer Jorge Perez first eyed a 4.2-acre tract on the west bank of the Hillsborough River two years ago, people asked him if he wouldn't prefer to build on the opposite side closer to the downtown core.

    No way.

    From left, Related Group executive associate Arturo Penaa, Jorge Perez, center, founder and CEO of the Related Group, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Steve Patterson, the President of Related Development dig their shovels  during the groundbreaking ceremony of the 400 unit Riverwalk Manor apartment complex on site of the old Tampa Tribune building on Wednesday. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
  4. Eat 3-course meals for $35 at these 100 restaurants for Orlando's Magical Dining Month

    Food & Dining

    In the early 1900s, hotels offered "table d'hote" or "prix fixe" menus as a form of loss leader. Hotels didn't necessarily make money on these lower-priced, multi-course meals, often served at communal tables, but they made up for it on the booze. Prohibition may have contributed to a gradual shift toward a la carte …

    Bulla Gastrobar serves a variety of Spanish and Portuguese dishes.
  5. Plant City farmer hopes robot pickers can save strawberry industry from shrinking labor force


    PLANT CITY — If current trends continue, the region's status as a major strawberry producer will depend in large part on what happens in Mexico.

    Strawberry pickers work during the daytime, when fruit is more likely to bruise. Machine pickers can work at night. The owner of Wish Farms in Plant City is developing automated pickers and hopes to see them at work on a widespread basis in five years. [Times file]