WASHINGTON - The price of oil reached a new high Monday, settling at $41.72 per barrel as traders shrugged off Saudi Arabia’s pledge to immediately pump more crude because other OPEC members refuse to formally increase the cartel’s daily production quota.
Meanwhile, the average retail price of gasoline nationwide soared 4.7 cents last week to $2.064 per gallon —also a record — one week ahead of the start of the busy summer driving season, according to Energy Department statistics released Monday.
Those price increases will likely translate into even higher prices at East Valley pumps, said Kim Pappas Miller, AAA Arizona spokeswoman.
"Given that crude prices increased so much Monday, you will probably see another price increase Tuesday," Pappas Miller said.
On Monday, gas prices set a record in Arizona at an average of $2.15 per gallon of unleaded regular.
That’s a penny higher than the old statewide record reached Friday, Pappas Miller said.
In the East Valley, the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular was $2.19 Monday, with Scottsdale leading the region’s prices at $2.23 per gallon, Pappas Miller said.
Meanwhile, Pappas Miller said that as motorists hit the road this holiday week, lower prices can be found outside Maricopa County.
The county is required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to have all gas outlets sell a special blend of gasoline aimed at reducing air pollution that is not required in less populated regions of the state, Pappas Miller said.
"There will be cheaper gas prices outside the Valley for that reason," she said.
When inflation is taken into account, neither oil nor gasoline is nearly as expensive today as it was during the energy crisis more than 20 years ago. Nevertheless, surging energy prices are seen as a potential threat to the global economic recovery.