Below-normal temperatures, a weakened dollar and crude oil price increases have created a recipe for emptier wallets at the gas pumps.
“The increase in retail gas prices that we have seen is because of the severe weather that we have been seeing recently. The prices had been relatively flat over the last few weeks, even while the demand for crude oil was increasing. Traditionally, when crude oil trades at higher prices, the retail gas prices tend to follow,” said Jessica Brady, AAA Auto Club South public relations specialist.
“The severe weather was predicted to end (Monday), but then the forecast was extended through mid-January and, when that happened, gas prices starting going up. Retail gasoline prices were pushed higher as demand for crude oil increased to produce more heating oil and natural gas.
“Another factor contributing to the spike in crude oil prices is the value of the dollar. The value was strengthening for a while, which is why prices were relatively flat, but now it is weakening and that is also pushing crude oil prices higher.”
The weakened dollar allows foreign investors with stronger currency to purchase more American crude oil, which drives demand for the limited supplies up, Brady says.
According to AAA, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in Georgia increased by 15 cents over the past week — from around $2.45 to $2.60. Given current economic conditions, even a 1 cent increase is too much for some residents who need to keep a close eye on their bottom line.
“I normally fill up on Mondays after work, but it was cold and I didn’t want to stop,” said Farrah Hughes, a Gainesville resident. “But now I wish I had. It seems like gas prices jumped overnight.”
Nationally, the average price of a gallon of regular fuel is $2.69, compared to $2.62 a week ago. Locally, current gas prices are around $2.40 to $2.66 per gallon of regular gasoline.