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Will additives push gasoline to a record high?

The price may hit $3.50 a gallon this spring because of problems obtaining alkylates.

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Already feeling the effects of a cold snap in the Midwest and Northeast and strains with key oil supplier Venezuela, American energy consumers are about to encounter a new complication: rising prices of a key gasoline additive – nicknamed liquid gold by some.

As a result of this cost increase, some analysts are predicting that the price at the pump could reach as high as $3.50 a gallon this spring, compared with $2.93 a gallon currently.

Behind the predicted price spike are problems with obtaining alkylates – the additive. But even before that had time to kick in, prices surged 23 cents a gallon between Sunday and Monday in seven states, reports GasPriceWatch.com. In Dayton, Ohio, for example, gasoline prices rose overnight from $2.82 a gallon to $3.05 a gallon, says Brad Proctor, CEO of the website.

"The national price is probably going to rise 3 cents a gallon overnight," he says, blaming rising tensions with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who threatened Sunday to cut off oil supplies to the United States. "They represent 12 percent of our oil supply," says Mr. Proctor.

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