VILNIUS 's Prices at Baltic pumps were set to rise to yet new highs as world crude prices soared in the wake of the hurricane Katrina catastrophe.
Mazeikiu Nafta, the only refinery in the Baltic states, boosted the wholesale price of 95 gasoline to 2.95 litas (0.85 euro) per liter, a new record high, on Aug. 31. The company's trading arm said it would raise the price of diesel fuel by 0.04 litas to 2.79 litas per liter.
Analysts predicted that the latest rise in wholesale prices would immediately be felt at pumps throughout the Baltics.
News that Katrina has done extensive damage to several offshore rigs in the Gulf of Mexico sent world crude price to over $70 per barrel, and fears that the worst was yet to come could propel prices even higher.
With winter rapidly approaching, some analysts fear that the upcoming supply crunch could sent oil prices to all-time, inflation-adjusted highs.
Crude prices are some 60 percent higher than they were a year ago, though below the inflation-adjusted high of $90 per barrel in 1980.
Six refineries in the southern United States, the largest consumer of the world's crude oil, have shut down as a result of the hurricane, while several drilling rigs have been seriously damaged 's if not altogether destroyed.
Gas prices in the United States reached record highs on Wednesday, with futures soaring 20 percent to $2.47 per gallon.
Meanwhile, Lithuanian fuel retailers are waging a campaign against their own compatriots who travel to Russia and Belarus for a cheaper tank of gas. Retailers want the government to limit the amount of gas each car can bring back into the country to 200 liters.
The Lietuvos Zinios daily reported that the Finance Ministry was preparing to start talks with all interested sides in the debate.
An EU directive allows member states to limit the quantity of fuel in the tank of a vehicle crossing the border to 200 liters, the Baltic News Service reported.