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Oil expert predicts U.S. gas prices could pass $5.05

A patron takes a picture as premium gas prices shoot over $6 in Daly City, Calif., on March 5. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/9ca321e1740799910c58bfeb7cf6d94f/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
A patron takes a picture as premium gas prices shoot over $6 in Daly City, Calif., on March 5. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

June 6 (UPI) -- U.S. gas prices could soon pass a national average of $5.05 a gallon, a veteran oil analyst predicted Monday, as Americans said the high prices are hurting their businesses.

Andy Lipow, president of the consulting firm Lipow Oil Associate, told CNN that he expects the national average to hit $5.05 a gallon in the next 10 days.

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Gas prices at the pump have climbed to a record national average high of $4.87 on Monday, up from their previous highest peak of $4.33 per gallon in March, according to data from AAA. The national average price for a gallon of gas a year ago was just $3.05.

As an example of how the rising costs are impacting drivers, the cost to fill the 8.5-gallon tank of a Scion iQ subcompact car from empty would have cost about $26 to fill up at last year's national average price but would cost about $43 to fill up if prices reach $5.05.

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The Ford Super Duty pickup, which has a massive 48-gallon fuel tank, would have cost $146.40 to fill from empty a year ago but would now cost $242.40 to fill from empty if prices reach $5.05 per gallon.

The gas prices have started to take a hit on small business owners and nonprofits that rely on the use of vehicles.

The executive director of Meals on Wheels in Abilene, Texas, told KTAB that gas prices are deterring volunteers, who help the nonprofit deliver nearly 1,200 meals a day to seniors.

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"We've got a lot of routes that we don't have volunteers for, and I'm having to send staff out," local executive director Betty Bradley told KTAB. "The gas prices have really affected Meals on Wheels."

Austin Smith, who owns the small Texas trucking company Iron River Express, has received attention on social media for a post he made Thursday calling the rising gas prices "a scary time" for his family.

"Today I filled up my truck to deliver products that help keep our country fed. When I filled up my truck, it cost me $1,149.50. This is one truck, for one day of fuel. I own three," Smith said.

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"So, for one day of operation, it's costing me $3,448.50. Yes, we use a full tank of fuel every single day, sometimes more than one tank per day."

Smith said that he generally pays about $17,242.50 to operate his three trucks weekly, but that the rise in gas prices means he is now paying more than $20,000 for gas weekly -- a difference of thousands of dollars.

"I have to pay out of my pocket to try and keep not only my children fed, but those of my employees, and our country," Smith said.

He hypothesized that the United States is on a "downhill slide" to the worst recession the country has ever seen, noting that trucking companies "are going under left and right" meaning that the price of goods they deliver will increase.

"If something drastic doesn't change in the next few weeks/months, I promise you, you'll see empty shelves everywhere you look," Smith said. "You'll see chaos as people fight for the basic necessities of everyday life."

A recent report from the international nonprofit Oxfam found that "the rapidly rising prices of food and energy, which hit the incomes of the poorest hardest, are set to drive up global inequality." The report blamed energy companies for prioritizing profits.

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"Big oil's profit margins have doubled during the pandemic, while the cost of energy is projected to soar by 50% in 2022," Oxfam wrote in the report.

"The wholesale cost of crude oil has already increased by 53% in the past 12 months and that of natural gas by 148%. Energy costs have an enormous impact on every part of life and are a significant contributor to food and transport prices."

Oxfam said that energy companies are "making a killing" from the price increases and that "profits across the energy sector have increased by 45%."

"Billionaires in the oil, gas and coal sector have seen their wealth increase by $53.3 billion (24%) in real terms in the last two years," Oxfam said.

"Five of the largest energy companies (BP, Shell, Total Energies, Exxon, and Chevron) have made a combined profit of $82 billion in the last year -- that's $2,600 every second."

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