Chile quake could lead to higher gas prices

By Juan Carlos Fanjul - bio | email

WEST PALM BEACH-- If you haven't noticed gas prices are up.

And they could continue to go up according to the AAA, if it turns out refineries in Chile were damaged by the earthquake.

Here are the numbers:

The average regular unleaded gallon of gas now sells for $2.76 in Florida, up almost a dime from the week before and almost a full dollar from a year ago.

Florida is above the national average of $2.70, an average which also grew from a week ago and a year ago.

In West Palm Beach we saw gas prices at $2.73 Monday afternoon.

Recent reports about a better-than-expected U.S. economy have actually spiked crude oil prices which in turn has led to higher prices at the pump.

Another factor that could likely keep prices high is Chile's earthquake which has forced two oil refineries to shut down because of power outages.

Chile is not a major producer of oil such as Venezuela but it does contribute to the overall supply.

"There are always disruption problems like broken pipelines, or disrupted shipping. The hike could be 20% or half a percent," said Community Chevron gas station operator Chris Martorano.

Adding to the problem, demand for gas is up and oil companies know that.