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May 24, 2007 10:30 AM, EDT

Biofuels May Boost Gas Prices, N.Y. Times Says

Michah Walter/Bloomberg News

Continued record high gasoline prices may become a trend, due in part to an expansion in biofuel development, according to some oil executives, the New York Times reported Thursday.

Development of biofuel alternatives such as ethanol is causing some uncertainty in refineries’ output, the Times said in a front-page story.

Oil executives told Congress last year they planned to expand refinery output by 1.6 million to 1.8 million barrels per day over the next five years, an increase of 10%, the Times reported.

But those plans have since been scaled back to 1 million barrels a day, according to government figures, the paper said.

Refining shortfalls have been cited as at least a partial cause of the recent of the recent record prices, with gasoline’s most recent record set Monday at $3.218. Diesel’s national price Monday was $2.803, according to the Energy Department.

The record gas price is close to topping the March 1981 inflation-adjusted record of $1.42 a gallon, the Times reported. In today’s dollars, that would be the equivalent of $3.31 a gallon.