Rising gas prices: Don't blame the stations

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Just like you shouldn't shoot the messenger, you should not blame gas stations for the ever-increasing gas prices.

As Tess Rafols explained Friday morning, after an overnight price jump of 4 cents, the gas stations only get a small piece of the pie.

Regular unleaded is already over the $4 mark in some parts of the country, and Arizona isn't far behind. Diesel and premium fuels are already there.

For every dollar you spend on gas, 60 cents goes to the crude-oil companies. Oil refineries, many of which are independent businesses, get about 15 cents. That leaves just 25 cents for delivery charges, taxes and credit-card fees. When all is said and done, local gas-station owners only make about 2 cents for every dollar you spend at their pumps.

"The way gas prices have been trending, wholesale prices have been increasing so rapidly that margins -- the money that stations make off of gas, which is usually only a few cents -- is actually in the red," explained Michelle Donati of AAA Arizona. "It is true that gas stations aren't necessarily making money on gas right now."

So, what's behind the spike in gas prices?

While the U.S. supply hasn't changes, those growing tensions in the Middle East are manifesting themselves as higher prices here. Experts say Iran has stopped exporting to two European countries, causing the price of crude oil to shoot up. That has sparked quite a bit of anxiety in a market that's already volatile.

Donati says we're paying about 40 cents more per gallon of gas than we were this time last year.

"We haven't seen prices like this since June of last year," Donati explained. "Really, the last time we saw prices climbing at this pace, toward this level, was back in 2008, when prices made their record run."

AAA Arizona says prices will continue to climb and there's no relief in sight, which means record-high gas prices are a very real possibility.