Gas prices hold steady despite bad news from oil producers in Venezuela, Mideast

Sunday, April 21st 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) _ Gasoline prices edged down more than half a cent in the past two weeks despite tensions in oil-producing regions in the Middle East and South America.

Friday's weighted price per gallon for all grades and taxes was about $1.46, according to the Lundberg survey of 8,000 gas stations nationwide.

The decrease _ the first since Feb. 8 _ could be a sign that gasoline prices, which generally spike during the summer months, may have peaked, said analyst Trilby Lundberg.

``At the very least the gasoline price hikes have been stalled,'' Lundberg said. ``And this is despite dramatic headlines out of two key oil producing countries _ Iraq and Venezuela.''

Iraq and Venezuela jointly export about 4.5 million barrels a day, or about 6 percent of global supplies.

But Iraq stopped all oil exports on April 8 in an attempt to force Israel to withdraw its troops from the West Bank. President Saddam Hussein said the cut would last until Israel withdrew or for 30 days, at which stage the decision would be reviewed.

Venezuela's largest business and labor groups called a general strike in early April to support an oil workers' protest against bosses appointed by the president, virtually choking production. Venezuela is the third-largest supplier of oil to the United States.

Despite a brief fluctuation, crude oil prices have remained steady, Lundberg said.

``The oil market ended up yawning at both those developments,'' Lundberg said. ``The result is price stability at the pumps at least for now.''

From Feb. 8 to April 7, gasoline prices jumped 32 cents. Prices remain more than 21 cents a gallon lower than they were at this time last year, when gas cost $1.67 per gallon.

The national weighted average price of gasoline, including taxes, at self-serve pumps Friday was about $1.42 per gallon for regular, $1.52 for mid-grade and $1.61 for premium.