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Ethanol Production Slows From Drought, Pushes Gas Prices Higher

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A shortage of corn-based ethanol is the latest factor to contribute to the rise of gas prices, a survey showed.
A shortage of corn-based ethanol is the latest factor to contribute to the rise of gas prices, a survey showed.

NEW YORK, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Gasoline prices in the United States rose over the past two weeks, driven partly by supply disruptions and a drought-induced rise in ethanol prices, a widely followed survey showed on Sunday.

The Lundberg Survey said the national average price of self-serve, regular gas was $3.69 on Aug. 10, up from $3.51 on July 27.

Gasoline prices peaked this year at $3.967 a gallon on April 6. The record high is $4.112 set on July 11, 2008.

Trilby Lundberg, who conducts the survey of some 2,500 gas stations nationwide, said the rise was partly the result of temporary supply disruptions at refineries and an increase in the cost of corn-based ethanol caused by a severe Midwestern drought.

U.S. law requires a certain amount of ethanol to be sold, and much of it gets blended into gasoline, Lundberg said.

"Right now, its impact on gasoline is that it's adding to the cost," she said. "It pales in comparison to the impact of crude on gasoline, but it's among the non-crude items that has pushed up the price lately."

U.S. benchmark West Texas crude ended the week higher on Friday, settling at $92.87 a barrel. That price had been as high as $110.55 as recently as March 1.

It is up about 5.5 percent so far in August, after rising 3.6 percent in July.

Benchmark December corn futures at the Chicago Board of Trade are up 60 percent since mid-June. (Reporting By Steven C. Johnson; Editing by Maureen Bavdek)

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