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US gas average hits $2.02, and it's likely to rise

LOS ANGELES -- Gasoline prices have climbed nearly 8 cents a gallon in the past two weeks because of record-high crude oil prices, and they are likely to continue rising, an industry analyst said yesterday.

From Sept. 24 through Friday, the combined national average for all grades of gas rose from $1.94 to $2.02 a gallon, said Trilby Lundberg, who publishes the semimonthly Lundberg Survey of 7,000 gas stations across the country.

Self-serve regular, the biggest seller, averaged $1.99 a gallon Friday, midgrade was $2.09, and premium was $2.18, Lundberg said.

Prices are likely to continue climbing in the short term along with rising crude oil prices, which hit $53.31 per barrel on Friday. But prices may come down after hurricane-damaged petroleum facilities in the Gulf of Mexico are repaired, Lundberg said.

''That is, unless we have a new event such as an especially cold winter, in the US, or internationally, snapping up home heating supplies and prices, which would add to the value of crude oil," Lundberg said.

The most expensive gasoline was sold in San Diego, where self-serve regular was $2.35 a gallon. The cheapest was in Houston, where self-serve regular was $1.84.

Prices have risen 13.07 cents since Sept. 10, when the combined national average for all grades was $1.89 a gallon. Before then, pump prices had been sliding since May 21, when they reached a peak of $2.10 a gallon.

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