gas prices set to increase

Caution: Gas pinch ahead
Spring could also bring higher prices at Houston pumps as refiners start shifting to ethanol

— reported by the Houston Chronicle

Houston motorists could face price spikes and fuel shortages beginning this spring, as refiners phase out use of a common gasoline additive in favor of ethanol.

Federal energy forecasters warned Wednesday that gas supplies in Houston and the Dallas-Fort Worth area as well as cities along the East Coast could be disrupted as refiners try to keep up with the demand during the busy summer driving season.

That’s because refiners are switching away from the fuel additive methyl tertiary butyl ether — better known as MTBE — when making gasoline for cities with the most severe air pollution problems.

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This threat of more pain at the gas pump caps a year in which Houston motorists have felt the fallout from lofty world oil prices, destruction from Hurricane Katrina and the mass evacuation ahead of Hurricane Rita.

On Wednesday, regular unleaded was selling in Houston for an average $2.15 a gallon, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report. While down 82 cents a gallon from the peak set five months ago, Houston pump prices are still running about 38 cents a gallon higher than a year ago.

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Author: Paloma Cruz

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