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Outer Banks gas prices climb close to national average

Outer Banks gas prices climb close to national average

Pump prices expected to increase through May 1

By KARI PUGH

Gas prices shot up 11 cents over the last two weeks to a national average of $2.71 per gallon, and pump prices along the Outer Banks are reflecting that trend.

Across North Carolina, the average price per gallon was sitting at $2.62 on Monday, but from Manteo to Kitty Hawk this week, regular unleaded was running two to six cents higher.

Rising prices are the result of ongoing tensions in the Middle East offsetting U.S. crude oil production and inventory, according to the American Automobile Association. The rise is expected to continue inching up as the May 1 deadline to switch over to summer-blend gasoline at the pumps approaches.

“Gas prices could increase another five to 10 cents this season, but right now we don’t expect we’ll see the $3 mark,” AAA Carolinas spokeswoman Tiffany Wright said Monday.

Fuel costs are now 29 cents higher than this time last year, and three cents more than last year’s peak price following Hurricane Harvey, the AAA reported. In an informal poll at thecoastlandtimes.com, 88 percent of readers who responded say they’re watching spending more carefully and adjusting household budgets to compensate.

“I try to limit my driving and do all my errands by working the furthest out as I head back home,” reader Deborah Morris wrote on our Facebook page. “I may purchase a bike and start riding it to work!”

In addition to fuel costs, motorists are also paying higher taxes on gas, a national average of 2.6 cents more per gallon. In North Carolina, that translates to $4.08 more in gas taxes this year over last.

“While motorists fill up and see the final price on their receipt, it’s not always clear just how much of that goes to gas taxes. What’s clear is that most states have recently raised gas taxes,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.

Despite the increasing costs, AAA and local tourism officials say they don’t think gas prices will impact summer travel plans.

“We believe the majority of Carolinians planning to travel this summer will do so with a road trip,” Wright said. But “with more expensive gas prices on the horizon, travelers should plan now for the additional costs,” she said.

Lee Nettles, executive director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, doesn’t see gas prices being a problem for summer tourism.

“We don’t expect the recent fuel price fluctuations to have an impact on travel plans to the Outer Banks.”