Average Gasoline Price Rises for Third Straight Week

U.S. drivers paid more at the gasoline pump for the third week in a row, as crude oil costs climbed to a new record high, the government said Monday.

The national price for regular unleaded gasoline jumped 3.1 cents over the past week to $2.16 a gallon, up 22 cents from a year ago, according to a weekly survey of service stations by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (search).

The price for crude oil, which accounts for about half the cost of making gasoline, hit a new record of $59.52 a barrel in trading on Monday at the New York Mercantile Exchange (search).

Oil for July delivery eventually settled at NYMEX up 90 cents for the day, or 1.5 for 10 consecutive trading days .

Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota offered their proposal as an amendment to a pending energy bill.

Under their plan, crude deliveries to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (search) could resume after the oil price dropped below $40 a barrel for 10 trading days in a row.

The emergency reserve, created by Congress in the mid 1970s after the Arab oil embargo, is just 4.4 million barrels short of the Bush administration's goal to fill the stockpile to 700 million barrels.

The remaining crude that is scheduled to be delivered to the reserve is enough supply to meet five hours of the roughly 21 million barrels of oil the U.S. market consumes each day.

In the weekly EIA survey, the West Coast had the most expensive regular unleaded gasoline, with the price up 1.4 cents to $2.32 a gallon. Los Angeles topped the EIA's survey of cities, with the price of gasoline up 3.4 cents at $2.37.

The Gulf Coast states had the cheapest fuel, with the price up 3.4 cents at $2.08 per gallon. Among major cities, Houston had the cheapest pump price, with fuel up 3.3 cents to $2.04.

The EIA report also showed prices, rounded to the nearest penny, were down 1.1 cents at $2.25 in Seattle; up 0.8 cent at $2.24 in Miami; up 3.8 cents at $2.20 in New York City, up 4.5 cents at $2.19 in Chicago; up 5.2 cents at $2.19 in Boston and down 0.7 cent at $2.07 in Denver.

Separately, the price for diesel fuel increased 3.7 cents to $2.31 a gallon, less than half a penny from the record high and up 37 cents from a year earlier, the EIA said.

Truckers in central Atlantic states paid the most for diesel at $2.45 a gallon, up 5.2 cents from last week. The Rocky Mountain states had the cheapest diesel at $2.24 a gallon, up 2.6 cents.