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Gas prices will jump more than 11 percent, or about 14 cents per gallon, starting Saturday for people who buy their fuel or fuel coupons from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, AAFES said Friday.

AAFES-Europe spokesman Army Maj. Mitch Edgar said the short month hindered AAFES from notifying customers in advance about the exact price increase for gas and diesel fuel. Edgar had warned in a Feb. 21 Stars and Stripes story that sharp increases were likely.

Overall, all grades of fuel will cost about 14 cents per gallon more, Edgar said. The new prices were announced Friday.

Customers who followed news that prices in the United States were already topping $2 per gallon in some areas had begun buying gas coupon books in February at the lower prices in anticipation of the boost, Edgar said.

“We saw a surge in coupon sales,” he said, referring to the gas coupons that can be purchased and used at AAFES pumps and at select ESSO and BP gas stations in Germany and the Netherlands.

Customers pumping gas late Friday afternoon weren’t surprised at the price hike.

“I was expecting it, so it’s not a shock,” said Jim Strife, who had just filled up at the AAFES station in Darmstadt, Germany.

He said his mother recently mailed him a front-page article in early February from the local newspaper in upstate New York, near Fort Drumm, about whether gas prices would break $2 a gallon from the current $1.985.

AAFES sets its gas prices based on the previous Department of Energy four-week average for gasoline sales in the United States, and then adjusts the price to customers to reflect AAFES’ operating and fuel delivery costs. Edgar said that the amount of time required to collect information and calculate the new prices did not leave enough time to give advance warning of the exact increase during the 28-day month of February.

From January to February, the average price of regular gasoline in the United States jumped 13.5 cents a gallon, according to the DOE, with other grades facing similar increases.

In just the past two weeks, stateside gas prices rose 7 cents per gallon, according to the Lundberg Survey of 8,000 stations nationwide.

The average weighted price for gas nationwide, including all grades and taxes, was approximately $1.70 per gallon Friday, according to Lundberg. That price is within 7 cents of the all-time high recorded by the survey on May 18, 2001.

AAFES’ new prices for fuel, per gallon, are:

• In Germany: $1.742 for regular, $1.837 for super, $1.927 for super plus and $1.778 for diesel. Old prices were $1.606 for normal unleaded, $1.703 for super unleaded, $1.798 for super plus unleaded and $1.644 for diesel.• In the Netherlands: $1.837 for super, $1.927 for super plus and $1.778 for diesel. Old prices were were $1.703 for super, $1.798 for super plus and $1.644 for diesel.• In the United Kingdom: $1.795 for unleaded, $1.885 for the higher grade and $1.736 for diesel. Old prices were $1.661 for unleaded, $1.756 for the higher grade and $1.602 for diesel.• In Turkey and the Azores: Prices remained unchanged because AAFES purchases fuel from suppliers through a different system.• In Spain and Italy, prices of gas sold by the Navy vary from base to base. In Rota, Spain, the price per gallon went from $1.56 to $1.60 last week. Prices change periodically, not monthly.

“Compared to the States, [the prices] are good,” said Spc. Joshua Evans, of the 440th Signal Battalion in Darmstadt, as he pumped gas into a buddy’s sportscar he was borrowing.

Others said they had more important things to worry about than gas prices.

Spc. Chris Tomassetti, also of the 440th Signal Battalion, said the significant increase doesn’t bother him because he’s deploying soon.

“Frankly, I’ve got more important things on my mind,” Tomassetti said.

Edgar said April’s gas prices should be set by March 26.

He said those wishing to follow gas price trends can do so on the Internet at: tonto.eia.doe.gov/oog/info/gdu/gasdiesel.asp.

— Staff writer contributed to this story from Darmstadt, Germany.

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