LITTLE ROCK — For Gloria Springer, who freely admits her 1995 Buick is a gas guzzler, $20 in free gas was an offer she couldn’t refuse, and she was not alone.
She was among hundreds of motorists who lined up their vehicles at a convenience store near Clinton National Airport last week for a chance to get free gas as part a bank promotion.
“We need a break,” Springer said after waiting in line for 40 minutes for a community bank employee to pump 5 1/2 gallons of gas — at $3.70 a gallon — into the tank of her sedan.
Disabled and on Social Security, Springer lives in the Granite Mountain community on the southeastern tip of the city where shopping opportunities seem “a tank of gas away almost.”
“It all takes a while to get anywhere from here,” she said. “We just don’t have things … and as the gas prices go up and up, we get stuck right here, having to stay and shop just what we can reach.”
Gas prices in Little Rock averaged $3.47 a gallon Thursday, accordinging to Arkansasgasprices.com. The average statewide was $3.49 a gallon, up 31 cents in the last month to the same average price as a year ago.
Still about 20 cents a gallon below the national average, Arkansans can probably expect gas prices to go higher in the coming weeks before tapering off and starting to drop this fall, said Mike Right, a spokesman for AAA.
“That is a little bit too far below (the average), if you know what I mean, so I would suspect that you may see a continuation in increasing prices … and ultimately it will peak, plateau, and then start a downward trend,” Right said.
He attributed the recent spike in gas prices to refinery problems in Illinois and Indiana, which supply the Midwest with much of the gasoline, along with a break in a pipeline between Wisconsin and Illinois. A recent refinery fire in California also has contributed to rising gas prices, he said.
“Everybody’s prices have gone up because of the constriction in supply,” Right said. “That is what has happened in the last 10 days or so.”
Also contributing to rising prices has been an increase in crude oil prices because ongoing tension in the Middle East has caused concerns about the supply of oil, he said.
“What normally happens, within the past five years or so, the peak price we would pay in a year would be in the spring, the price would decrease a little bit in the summer, remain fairly constant throughout the summer in the heavy demand period, and then start to drop off sharply after Labor Day,” Right said. “That has been the general trend and hopefully that trend will continue.”
So do price-weary motorists, apparently.
Paul Davis, owner of the SJP Pit Stop, where last week’s free gas promotion was held, said cars began lining up at 7 a.m., two hours before the event started. He helped direct traffic while employees of Bank of Little Rock and Hope Credit Union pumped gas and passed out information as part of a free-checking promotion.
Davis said the promotion, and locating the credit union in the nearby College Station community, were good ideas.
“People are not going to want to spend $10 on gas driving across town to deposit their check for their money,” he said.
Springer said the promotion worked for her and she plans to open up an account.