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Speculating on Increases at the Pump

April 11, 1999

San Fernando Valley motorists are having to dig deeper into their wallets to pay for gasoline, with California's average price for regular unleaded jumping by almost 48 cents a gallon in the last six weeks, the California Energy Commission said last week.

KARIMA A. HAYNES asked several motorists if they believe oil companies when they say two recent oil refinery fires are to blame.

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RICK WATSON

54, Chatsworth; wholesale distributor

I don't think gas prices are going up because of the refinery fires. I think they are going up because it is spring break. The oil companies realized that people were going to be traveling a lot more this month and so they raised the prices. I think prices are going to go down after vacation.

I drive a Lincoln Navigator and it now costs me about $5 more to fill up the tank. Before, it cost me $22; now it's about $27. You hate to be cocky, but when you spend $47,000 for a truck, you don't care what the gas costs.

The higher gas prices haven't changed my driving habits. As long as I have a job, I won't be conservative. When I retire, I'll have to be conservative.

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DEBBIE ENGH

35, West Hills; motion picture grip

I think gas prices are higher because of the war in Kosovo. Less than a month ago, a gallon of gas was $1.10 and now we are looking at $1.60. You can't even go on a day trip. I can see it now, "Honey, we can go to Disneyland but we can't afford to get in because we spent all of our money on gas."

I drive about 40 miles a day between West Hills and my job in Burbank. It usually costs about $12 to fill up the tank, but now I'm pushing $20. It's crazy. I drive a 1987 Nissan Maxima that gives me good gas mileage.

You have to have gas to get anywhere. I can't take the bus or train because I have to take my kids to school, and I'd be late getting to work at 8 a.m. Car-pooling is inconvenient because people have to pick up kids or they want to go out to lunch or they want to do things after work. The oil companies really have you where they want you.

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DARLETTE ROBINSON

54, Granada Hills; secretary

I don't think much about the price; I just put in $10 worth. The $10 is enough to take me back and forth to work for the four days that I work.

The higher gas prices haven't affected me at all. I can understand how the higher prices could affect someone who uses their car a lot for business, but I just take my car to work, park it and drive home and park it.

This guy at my office sent out an e-mail message telling everyone not to buy gas on Friday [April 2], to protest the prices. He thought that if people didn't buy gas on one day, it would show the oil companies that people were upset with having to pay higher prices. I don't know if it worked.

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MARK JONES

40, Northridge; construction contractor

The high gas prices have changed my driving habits. I can't see friends that I want to see, and I'm riding my bike more.

I have a Jeep Cherokee and I drive a lot from Northridge to L.A. It used to cost me $25 to fill it up, but now I'm paying $33. I don't believe that the prices are going up because of the oil refinery fires. The oil companies are just trying to make the rich, richer and the poor, poorer--there's no secret about that.

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DAVID WELLS

35, Northridge; systems analyst

I think gas prices are higher because of the impending sale of Arco. I saw an Arco station where the prices were higher than at a Shell station across the street. Arco is always advertising how their prices are so much lower than the competition.

The higher prices haven't changed my driving habits. It was unpleasant when I first saw the prices going up. Twenty dollars just doesn't fill the tank anymore; it costs me about $25 to fill it up now. I drive about 18 miles round-trip to work. I don't use my car for business at all.

I drive a BMW. It's a 6-cylinder, and I get about 20 miles to the gallon. I bought it because it's fun to drive; the fuel efficiency is a side benefit.

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