Island drivers say there’s not much they can do but pay the price at the pump as the cost of a gallon of gas set a record in Honolulu and statewide today.
The average price of a gallon of regular gas in Hawaii hit $4.512 a gallon, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.
The price is 2 cents higher than yesterday and .2 cents higher than the old state record of $4.51 set on July 24, 2008.
Honolulu set a new high with an average price of $4.40 a gallon, beating the old record of $4.39 set on July 28, 2008. The price is about 2 cents more than yesterday and 94 cents higher than a year ago.
Oil industry analysts say the price of gas is likely to continue to go up as the peak summer driving season approaches.
Gas prices are already above $5 a gallon for regular on Molokai and prices for supreme topped $6 in Hana, Maui.
On Molokai, prices for the lower grade regular gas jumped 35 cents to $5.16 a gallon at Kaunakakai’s two gas stations yesterday.
Before yesterday’s jump, gas prices at the Kaunakakai station has been $4.81 a gallon for regular since April 5.
"Although our customers were surprised," said Kat Kai, office manager for Hayaku Go on Ala Malama Avenue in Kaunakakai, "we were expecting it.
"We kinda knew since prices have been going up every three months."
Gas has topped $5 a gallon for a month for all grades in remote Hana on Maui, said a cashier at the area’s only gas station, where customers pay $5.98 a gallon for regular and $6.19 a gallon for premium.
Gas prices in Wailuku have been setting records nearly every day this week. It reached $4.89 a gallon for regular, up 3 cents from yesterday’s record.
The price of gas in Hilo is higher than last year, but still well below the record. A gallon of regular gas costs an average of $4.51 today, that’s up by a penny from yesterday and about 94 cents above last year’s price. But the record is $4.66.
Jerrold Takata, a Honolulu electrician, said "there’s not much a consumer can do. If you have a family, you need your car. You can’t buy a new car."
Takata and Boyce Abellira were filling up their company truck early this morning in Makiki before going to work as electricians.
Gas at the Piikoi and King streets Chevron station ranged from $4.44 a gallon for regular to $4.64 for supreme.
"It’s going to cost anywhere for $70 to $75 today" to fill up, Takata added as he worked the gas pump and watched the price climb. Two weeks ago, he paid $4.30 a gallon. "The consumer is going to pick up the rising cost. When gas goes up, everything else goes up."
Takata’s personal vehicle is a truck that he only drives on weekends. But it costs nearly $100 to fill up every month, he said.
Abellira, who was paying $50 twice a month to fill up his compact car, called the situation "ridiculous."
Yong Park said she no longer fills up her van’s 20-gallon tank. "It’s just too expensive."
Instead, Park and several other motorists gassing up in the Makiki area today said they only buy a set amount.
Park’s limit is $60 whenever she goes to the pump. "When prices started to go up, I stop filling up my tank," she said.
She and her family of four also have made other concessions. "We do a lot more walking, especially to do marketing," Park said. "It also means we go to the market less often."
Hawaii continues to have the most expensive gas in the country while Alaska, Connecticut, Illinois, New York and the District of Columbia have average prices that also passed the $4 mark.
Indiana, Michigan, Nevada and Washington state are within 10 cents from reaching $4.
Elaine Beno, spokeswoman for AAA Hawaii, said there are ways drivers can limit gas consumption, including removing heavy items from vehicles and keeping up with maintenance.
Changing driving habits such as hard breaking and speeding can make a difference. "The most important and often overlooked tip for getting the most out of your tank of gasoline is the way you drive," Beno said. "For every time you’re going five miles over the speed limit you’re using up more gasoline. You’re using more gasoline to make the vehicle go faster."
Oil climbed above $111 a barrel today as the dollar weakened and the government reported an unexpected drop in U.S. crude supplies. Gas pump prices also edged higher to $3.84 for a gallon of regular.
The International Energy Agency, OPEC and others have said that they see signs that consumers are using less fuel as prices rise. In the U.S., retail surveys by MasterCard SpendingPulse indicate that motorists have cut back on gasoline purchases for the past seven weeks.
Some analysts have pointed to falling supplies as a sign that U.S. demand is holding steady. Yet Andrew Lipow, President of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston, said the drop in gasoline supplies may have more to do with many refineries along the East Coast being on hold for routine maintenance and other issues.
Energy Information Administration data shows that gasoline demand has dropped for the past three weeks, when compared with levels from a year ago.
Gasoline pump prices keep rising nevertheless. The national average increased slightly today to $3.837 per gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. A gallon of regular is 28.8 cents higher than it was a month ago and 97.8 cents higher than a year ago.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.