Gas prices could soar to record high

The Bush administration is “extremely concerned” about soaring gasoline prices, which recently topped $1.70 per gallon nationwide and are likely to set a record high this month, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said Thursday.

Abraham spoke after testifying before a Senate appropriations subcommittee on the department’s proposed budget for fiscal 2005. He did not say what, if anything, the administration was doing about rising gasoline prices.

Tight global supplies of crude oil, a recovering U.S. economy and the looming summer driving season mean gasoline prices are sure to climb during the next few weeks, according to Energy Information Administration (EIA) analysts.

At a Senate hearing on energy supply and demand, the EIA head said there was a “good possibility” retail gas prices will set a new high by the end of March.

The current national average price for unleaded gasoline is $1.72 per gallon, just 3 cents shy of the record set during late August, according to the EIA, the statistical arm of the Energy Department.