How the oil price surge could translate at the gas pumps

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Knoxville (WVLT) - Oil prices soar. Truck drivers worry. Oil closed near a whopping 140 dollars per barrel Friday.

That record has drivers sweating about possible new record high *pump prices.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy joins has more.

Waiting and worried. Knoxville drivers are doing both as they keep their eye on gas pumps, but for now gas averages have held steady. Knoxville's unleaded pumps will cost you about $3.81 a gallon. The Tennessee average still sits at $3.83 and nationwide drivers are filling up at $3.99 a gallon, but all that could change.

"It's costing me more to run fuel than it is to make money," trucker Lucius Moody said.

Trucker Lucius Moody's crunches numbers to save his livelihood.

"I'm worried. I'm going under, and I don't now how to stop it," Moody said.

Especially after oil topped 139 dollars a barrel today. Diesel prices already run the independent owner/operator more than 4-60 a gallon. His latest fill-up cost more than a 11-hundred bucks.

When Moody hauls a load, he's paid a fuel surcharge. But trips like this when there's no load attached, he pays the fuel bill, every penny, out of pocket.

"I don't know how much longer I can keep on. I really don't," Moody said.

AAA calls oil prices "very volatile," rising and falling everyday.

"So a spike like this, while it certainly gets our attention, this is a new record, it doesn't necessarily mean it's going to stay that way," said Don Lindsey from AAA.

AAA says it could pave the way for four dollar gas---or higher---in Knoxville, but exactly when's hard pump prediction.

"The longer and the higher this goes, the more we're going to see a ripple effect down through the economy," Lindsey said.

That's what worries Judith Pelot.

"I think we're all getting to the breaking point. I'm doing things differently. I'm driving less," Pelot said.

Including trips the grocery store. The American Trucking Association estimates 80 percent of U-S communities get goods on their shelves exclusively through trucks.
Pelot's grocery bill's already jumped 100 bucks a month.

"I wouldn't say we're in a pinch, but we don't have much a disposable income," Pelot said.

But all of Moody's income's at stake.

"The fuel went up this morning, after I'd already booked a load and if nothing changes by the time I get to Florida, it's taken 51 more dollars from my pocket," Moody said.

Losses like that could soon park his truck...for good.

AAA says several reasons pushed oil prices higher. First, US dollar continues weakening. AAA says the rising u-s unemployment rate had an impact. Also, tensions in the Middle East were factors.

AAA says if oil prices sit this high for a few days or a week, it could hit our pumps fairly soon, but how high prices could go is anyone's best guess.


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