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Drivers, better gas up now

Labor Day holiday and a hurricane may spike fuel prices

POSTED: September 3, 2008 5:01 a.m.
Sara Guevara/The Times

Shannon Allegood of Atlanta, a research coordinator at the Allergy & Asthma Clinic of Northeast Georgia, fills up her tank before heading home Friday afternoon at the Citgo on the corner of E.E. Butler Parkway and College Avenue.

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Motorists, be forewarned. The drop in gas prices you've been enjoying recently may come screeching to a halt this weekend.

Some experts predict the Labor Day weekend, coupled with Hurricane Gustav moving in, may cause fuel prices to spike.

"An awful lot's going to rely on the path of Gustav," said Gregg Laskoski, AAA Auto Club South spokesman. "What we're really going to be keeping an eye on is if Gustav follows the projected path that so many of the meteorologists are saying, where it takes the storm directly into the Texas/Louisiana area where we have so much of our oil infrastructure. If that happens and there's significant damage to any of these facilities, what we could see is that crude oil early next week could spike."

Some in Gainesville were expecting prices to go up this weekend regardless of the impending storm.

"I always think they raise it just for the holiday and take advantage of people who travel," said Jill Barwick.

Latanya Sheppard said she feels there's nothing you can do about the prices going up over the weekend, but she thinks they will drop again.

Laskoski said 25 percent of domestic crude oil and 40 percent of refinery capacity are located in the Texas and Louisiana region.

"If those facilities are damaged we're going to see some pressure on the supply side," he said.

Holiday weekend travel typically increases the demand for fuel, but the weather and the economy may keep more people at home for this year's holiday.

"Consumer demand is relatively low if the weather's going to be lousy," Laskoski said. "We are projecting just a slight decrease in Labor Day travel this year. Compared to last year, it's about a 1 percent difference."

Currently, gas prices are hovering around $3.50 a gallon. Friday afternoon in Gainesville, gas was just $3.43 a gallon at the Kangaroo at 1260 Candler Road and Calvary Church Road. In Flowery Branch, the cheapest gas could be found for $3.39 a gallon at Kroger on Winder Highway.

But just a month ago, gas was around $4 a gallon.

"Crude oil hit a peak price in mid-July," Laskoski said. "And when that happened, retail gasoline prices started to come down pretty steadily."

 



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