The nationwide average price of a gallon of gasoline has climbed above $1 for the first time in 16 months, spurred by new state taxes and wholesale price increases, an oil-industry analyst said Sunday.
Despite the overall increase, the most popular grade of gasoline, unleaded regular sold at self-service pumps, remained about eight cents below the $1 mark, said Trilby Lundberg, president of the Lundberg Survey, a national oil-industry newsletter based in Los Angeles.
A survey of 13,000 gasoline stations nationwide completed Friday showed the average price, combining all three major fuel grades, self- and full-service and cash and credit differentials, hit 100.23 cents. The average rose nearly a full cent from the 99.3-cent level found in the last survey three weeks ago.
Lundberg said about one-fourth of the increase from the last survey was due to several states raising various taxes.
The last time the average price exceeded $1 was in March, 1986, but the subsequent collapse of oil prices sent gasoline prices plummeting to an average 84 cents last November.
The average price first hit $1 a gallon in the fall of 1979 during the Iranian oil embargo, Lundberg said.
While the statistical average has returned to the $1 level, Lundberg said, "Millions of people have been paying over $1 a gallon for the past seven years if they needed premium or full service."
Conversely, she said self-service regular unleaded, which accounts for 78% of all gasoline sales, still averages about 92 cents a gallon.
Breaking down the figures by grade, self-service premium unleaded averaged 105.59 cents; regular unleaded 92.4; and regular leaded 89.29.
For full-service islands, premium unleaded averaged 128.46; regular unleaded 118.54; and regular leaded 114.83.
Erratic wholesale prices made it difficult to predict whether prices, which have been climbing steadily throughout 1987, will keep going up, she said. While rising in some markets, prices also have dropped in some areas, including the West Coast, in recent weeks.