Gas prices continue to climb; $4/gallon possible by spring

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PHOENIX -- As Sherry Harris drove to work Sunday, she stopped to fill up her car.

"You wanna drive your car, you gotta buy some gas," she explained as she gassed up the station on the corner of Third Street and Indian School Road.

Unleaded gasoline is listed at $3.38 at this Chevron station in Central Phoenix.

"That's 4 cents higher last week, 20 cents higher last month and 40 cents higher last year," explained Stephanie Dembowski with AAA of Arizona.

Upwards seems to be the trend.

What are other factors that will contribute to rising gas prices? According to Dembowski, regularly scheduled maintenance at refineries is set to begin in February. Then there's spring break and in the long term, summer travel.

Analysts agree that prices could reach record highs during the first half of 2012.

Gas prices typically springboard from January lows, but this January's prices have set record highs for the month. Some forecasters say we could even see $4 per gallon or higher by spring.

"The markets are very volatile and we never recovered from last year's very high prices," Dembowski noted. "So unfortunately, I don't see any major decreases in the short term."

Drivers are not happy with this news, but they say gas is a necessity.

"It don't matter, but yet it matters. We may not like it, but you still have to buy gas. It's like water," Harris laughed.

But increasing gas prices aren't bringing one Valley man down. After waiting for six years, Lance Tolbert just got a kidney transplant. He was gassing up when we caught up with him.

"I don't care how much gas prices go up," he said. I'm just glad to be able to be out of the house and getting better."

For now, Tolbert is counting his blessings more than his pennies.