Gas prices rise for first time in eight weeks

Gasoline prices rose in San Diego County today for the first time in more than eight weeks in apparent response to an interruption in supplies resulting from the threat to offshore rigs and Louisiana refineries posed by Hurricane Gustav.

After falling for 56 consecutive days, a streak that began July 9, the average price of a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline rose six-tenths of a cent to $3.85, the Oil Price Information Service reported.

Today’s average is 33.4 cents less than at this time last month and 78 cents less than the record high of $4.63 set on June 19, but $1.039 more than at this time last year, the Oil Price Information Service reported.

Several oil companies shut down production and evacuated facilities late last week because of the threat posed by Gustav to facilities in the Gulf Coast region. Preliminary indications were that the hurricane, caused little damage, with some companies taking steps today to resume production now that Gustav is a tropical depression.

The average price for gasoline is expected to resume its decline shortly because of what has been until now the falling price of crude oil.

The cost of a barrel of light sweet crude for October delivery fell $8.06 today in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange to $107.40, its lowest price since early April. Analysts attributed the decline to lower worldwide demand caused by slowing economies.

Crude oil costs account for two-thirds to three-quarters of the price of a gallon of gasoline, according to Tupper Hull, director of strategic communications for the Western States Petroleum Association, a trade association representing major oil companies in six Western states.