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Fuel prices likely to rise

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Summertime has been a good time for gas prices the past three years, but a reversal might be on tap this year.

Industry experts fear that the volatile situation in Iraq and an expected increase in demand could lead to rising prices at the pump, according to AAA Mid–Atlantic and

“The national average has stayed relatively flat for the last month, but that appears to be over, as the escalating situation in Iraq takes hold and drives crude oil and retail gasoline prices higher,” petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan said Monday.

AAA spokeswoman Martha Mitchell Meade also pointed to Iraq as the primary reason for a potential gas price increase.

The national average of $3.66 for a gallon of regular is already close to this year’s peak of $3.70, Meade said in a release.

And AAA projects that prices could soon exceed that springtime peak.

“It’s never the right time to see gas prices rise; however, the timing could not be worse for motorists as we get closer to the July Fourth holiday,” Meade said. “For many travelers, this could mean a quick change of plans to stay closer to home and avoid the dreaded pain at the pump.”

On a positive note, Virginia gas prices are the seventh lowest in the United States.

However, the state average of $3.46 a gallon is nearing the springtime peak of $3.52.

Locally, the average price for regular is $3.34, according to AAA.

Last month, the price was a penny higher. Last year at this time, the average in the Fredericksburg area was $3.38.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436