COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – After rising nearly every day for the past two months and climbing 67 percent so far this year, it looks like gasoline prices may be ready to take a break.

Gas prices were up for a 54th straight day Sunday, by 0.1 cents, to a new national average of $2.693 a gallon, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service.

The recent run-up exceeds anything that oil analysts say they have seen since the 1970s. But the streak should end Monday or Tuesday, Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst for OPIS, said Sunday.

The Energy Information Administration reported that gasoline stockpiles grew last week by 3.4 million barrels, or 1.7 percent, much more than the 650,000 barrels that analysts had expected.

The bigger supply has pressured wholesale prices across the country, as demonstrated by a 10-cent drop to $1.93 a gallon Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices on the West Coast fell 27 cents last week to $1.931 a gallon and were down 15 cents to $1.94 in the Chicago area that serves the upper Midwest. Those declines eventually will pass through to the consumer.

The question now is whether prices, which usually peak in the U.S. around the July 4th holiday, will backslide into the fall or if geopolitical problems in Iran and Nigeria will drive oil – and gasoline prices – even higher after a short dip.

Typically, prices would decline about 10 percent – 25 or 30 cents a gallon – through the rest of the summer, but Kloza worries that violence associated with the disputed election results in Iran and ongoing pipeline attacks in Nigeria could affect oil production in those countries.

Violence has been escalating in Nigeria as the military intensifies operations to flush out rebels battling for a larger share of that country’s oil revenue. On Sunday, militants in Nigeria said they attacked two pipelines belonging to oil giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC. The extent of the damage was unclear.

And for the past week, protesters loyal to Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi have been staging massive street rallies, decrying what they believe to be a rigged election.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.