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CAMARILLO, California (AP) -- Gasoline prices have remained steady over the past two weeks, with no immediate impact from the decision to tap 30 million barrels of oil from emergency stockpiles, an analyst said Sunday.
The Lundberg Survey of 10,000 stations nationwide has found that the average price of all grades, plus taxes, was $3.89 per gallon Friday. It was a tenth of a cent per gallon lower than prices the survey found two weeks ago, but 28 cents per gallon higher than for the same period a year ago.
Rising energy costs are becoming an issue in the presidential campaign as winter heating bills are expected to be as much as 50 percent higher than last year's. Crude oil is selling for more than $120 per barrel, an all time high.
There has been an increase in demand and several rises in production costs, as states around the country pass tougher "clean air" rules.
Thirty million barrels of oil is "a drop in the bucket" compared to U.S. demand, Lundberg said, but the balance between supply and demand is so fine that "even small volumes can tip the scales" in terms of price.
The 590-million-barrel Strategic Oil Reserve was set up as insurance against interruption of oil supplies after the 1973 Arab oil embargo caused shortages at the gasoline pumps. Except for two practice draw-downs, its only previous use was during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
The national weighted average price of gasoline, including taxes, at self-serve pumps Friday was $3.88 for regular, $3.99 for mid-grade and $4.23 for premium.
"I don't believe that either political party has particularly distinguished itself on energy strategy for a long, long time, going back decades there's a little bit of finger-pointing that can go in both directions.