Record gas prices seen after Alaska shutdown
Expect to pay three to five cents more at the pump as 8 percent of nation's production goes offline.

NEW YORK ( -- Gasoline prices could break all-time highs in the wake of the Alaska oil field closure, one analyst said Monday.

With a national average of $3.036 for a gallon of regular, prices are already within easy reach of the all-time record high of $3.057 set last September in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, according to the motorist group AAA.

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"Prices are likely to rise three cents to five cents a gallon for the next few days," said Tom Kloza, an oil analyst at the research group Oil Price Information Service.

But Kloza said the runup in price is more psychological than anything else, as the amount being taken offline isn't that much and gas prices are more impacted by Mideast violence or tropical storms in the Gulf of Mexico, home to much of the nation's refining.

"We're talking about 400,000 barrels a day," he said "This is not the straw that broke the camel's back."

Another analyst agreed that the closure, which amounts to 2 percent of the nation's total oil consumption, wouldn't have much of an impact on actual supplies.

"It certainly isn't going to create any shortages in gasoline, diesel fuel and other petroleum products," Tancred Lidderdale, an analyst with the federal Energy Information Administration, told Reuters.

Kloza said the impact might be felt more on the West Coast, where much of Alaska's crude oil goes for refining.

Traders backed up that theory, and wholesale prices for ethanol-blend, California gasoline spiked 8.5 cents early Monday in Los Angeles, Reuters reported.

Kloza said to expect high prices until about mid September, then a fairly sharp decline as demand for gasoline drops at the end of the so-called summer driving season.

BP said Monday it was forced to shut off about 8 percent of the nation's oil supply after discovering "unexpectedly severe corrosion" in its pipelines in Alaska's Prudhoe Bay.

- from staff and wire reports

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