Megan Davies
May 19, 2008

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The average retail price of a gallon of regular grade gasoline in the U.S. rose to a new record high as the cost of a barrel of crude oil price continued its ascent, an industry analyst said on Sunday.

The U.S. average retail regular gasoline price rose to $3.7929 a gallon on May 16, up nearly 17 cents in the past two weeks, according to the nationwide Lundberg survey of about 7,000 gas stations.

In two areas — Chicago and New York’s Long Island — prices soared to an average of more than $4 a gallon for the first time, survey editor Trilby Lundberg said.

The gasoline price could rise to $4 a gallon on a national average basis, she forecast. “The refinery margin on gasoline is so poor, I think the upward pressure on the refining margin will push up the price at the pump, even if crude oil does not,” she said in an interview.

Refiners, who process crude oil to make gasoline, have been battered by slim margins for the past six months as they have struggled to pass on record crude oil prices to consumers. Some have mothballed refineries in response to the weak margins.

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