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Gasoline prices may be on the way up, AAA says

Average price per gallon in Utah is $1.14, survey finds

SHARE Gasoline prices may be on the way up, AAA says

Utah motorists should enjoy low gasoline prices now, because they may not last, AAA Utah reported Tuesday.

The average price per gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline in Utah is $1.14, down 3 cents from December's price and 28 cents from a year ago, the nonprofit travel services company said in a release. That compares to a national average of $1.13 per gallon, which is down from $1.48 in January 2001.

But the declining prices of the last year probably will end as efforts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to decrease supply begin to take hold, AAA said.

"The barrel price is now stabilizing between $20 to $21," said Rolayne Fairclough, AAA Utah spokeswoman. "The per barrel price in late November and much of December was $18 to $20."

OPEC and five rivals began cutting production by almost 2 million barrels a day, or 2.6 percent, starting Jan. 1. For now, the move has "stopped the price slide and restored stability to the market," OPEC Secretary-General Ali Rodriguez said in remarks prepared for a conference in Libya.

However, Rodriguez said the cartel is "not out of the woods yet."

"Weak world oil demand is expected to put further pressure on prices in the second quarter, so we must be vigilant and ensure that we are ready to manage any adverse situation," he said.

Crude oil in London had fallen to $19.75 a barrel by Tuesday.

Still, energy analyst Alan Kovski said in the AAA release that gas prices are starting to head back up.

"It is quite possible that during the lowest points of the gas price decline, retailers were selling at a loss as they battled for market share," Kovski said.

In addition to its statewide daily survey, AAA Utah surveys specific cities for its monthly report. Not all Utah cities are surveyed, so consumers may find gasoline prices higher or lower in their towns or neighborhoods.

Of the cities surveyed, Salt Lake City has the lowest price at $1.08 per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline, although some stations in town had prices as low as $1.05 per gallon. The AAA figure is down 9 cents from December's price of $1.17.

The AAA survey found an average price in Orem of $1.11 per gallon, down 3 cents from December. St. George and Ogden tied at $1.12 per gallon, Provo was at $1.14 and Moab's price fell 10 cents from December to $1.24.

Contributing: Bloomberg

E-mail: gkratz@desnews.com