Press release: Gas prices climb 9

(IRVING, TEXAS) —- Motorists in New Mexico are paying on average $3.47 for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline, a nine-cent hike in one week, according to the AAA New Mexico Weekend Gas Watch. In the last two weeks prices in New Mexico increased 27 cents.

Nationally prices this week jumped 10 cents to $3.53 a gallon, according to AAA New Mexico.

The price of gasoline in New Mexico is nearing the national average. This week the difference is six cents.

Las Cruces has the most expensive gasoline at $3.47 a gallon; jumping 11 cents. Albuquerque has the least expensive gas at $3.39, up seven cents in a week.

What’s driving the market?

• U.S. retail gasoline demand fell in the first week of March because of higher prices in all regions of the country, according to the MasterCard Spending Pulse Report. Average demand dropped 1.8 percent to 8.953 million barrels per day in the week of March 4.

Year-over-year, demand slipped 1 percent.

• The continued unrest in Libya and the potential for instability in other Middle Eastern and North African oil exporting nations pushed world oil prices to a 29-month high earlier this week on the NYMEX exchange.

• Even as oil prices rise, supplies appear to be abundant. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a rise of 2.5 million barrels for the week to March 4 – quadruple the 600,000-barrel increase expected by analysts.

As prices increase, AAA Texas/New Mexico recommends some relatively simple steps motorists can take to cut their fuel consumption.

• Drive the speed limit. Studies show that by following this simple step you’re saving a significant amount of gasoline. The U.S. Department of Energy says that for every five miles you drive over 60 miles per hour is equal to paying an additional 24 cents per gallon for gas.

• Clean out the trunk. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your miles per gallon by up to 2 percent.

• If you have a GPS, use it. Plan the quickest and shortest distance to your destination. Avoiding hills and stops will increase your gas mileage.

• Maintain your tire pressure at the manufacturer’s recommended level and keep your car well maintained.

• Anticipate the stop lights and stop signs. Get to know your usual routes and look ahead. Knowing when you’ll have to stop, you can let up on the gas earlier. Coasting to a stop will save the gasoline you would otherwise use maintaining your speed longer. However, do not coast if you are disrupting the flow of traffic behind you.

“Gasoline today is at least 50 cents a gallon more expensive than it was just on January 1st. Then motorists paid $3.07 nationally and $2.91 in Texas and New Mexico,” said AAA Texas/New Mexico Corporate Communications Manager Dan Ronan in Irving, Texas.