The chairman of Amoco yesterday predicted gasoline and heating oil prices will go up another seven to 10 cents a gallon, but an influential oil industry publication warned there is such a glut of gasoline that prices could actually fall.
John E. Swearingen, chairman of Standard Oil of Indiana, estimated that gasoline prices will quickly jump to an average of more than $1.50 a gallon because of the latest round of price hikes by oil exporting nations and the Reagan administration's decision to lift price controls.
But a survey of gasoline stocks indicates there is a massive surplus that will hold prices to $1.45 through the end of the year and perhaps could force prices to decline.
As of Feb. 6, gasoline was selling for an avearge of $1.3222 cents a gallon, up slightly more than 5 cents in the past two weeks, The Lundberg Letter, a highly regarded petroleum industry publication, reported yesterday. Swearingen, whose company markets its products under the Amoco label, appeared ON THE CBS television program, Face The Nation.
The oil executive said cost increases that have not been passed on to the consumer are threatening another round of increases in prices at the pump. But Lundberg claimed demand for petroleum products is so soft that oil companies will not be able to raise their prices.
Swearingen acknowledge the weakness in the market by pointing out the oil companies have not yet passed on to consumers all the higher costs resulting from the last round of wholesale prices increased by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. He said decontrol and the deferred price increases could add 20 cents a gallon to gasoline and heating oil prices in the next few months.
A Lundberg survey of gasoline stocks at refineries showed the tanks held 277 million barrels as of Feb. 6, just 6.1 million barrels below the record of gasoline in storage set last April.
"Last year's glut was so serious the problem was never more than partially solved," Lundberg noted. "The possibility of a more serious glut this summer makes the problem potentially that much worse.
Surplus gasoline could begin to put downward pressure on prices at any time," the newsletter warned, "but it is likely before the end of March."