Filling up at the pump can be downright painful these days.
According to the American Automobile Association, prices at the gas pumps in our area have jumped 30 cents in the past month. The average price for a gallon of gas is $3.65. AAA said just a month ago, drivers were paying around $3.35 a gallon. And according to AAA spokesman, Mark Jenkins, the worst is yet to come.
“We haven’t hit the peak yet. We’re still moving towards the peak of high gas prices,” Jenkins explained.
Jenkins said there is some good news. Right now, gas prices are still below where they peaked last year in Georgia. In February 2013, prices at the pump topped off at $3.77 per gallon.
But try explaining that to the thousands of Georgia drivers, including LaGrange resident, Pam Barnes.
“It’s frustrating, ” she said. “And there’s no explanation for it.”
Barnes is also the Office Manager at Crockett Brothers Incorporated, a full service gas station and service shop at the corner of Vernon and South Greenwood Streets. She said she’s getting an earful from her customers too.
“Eight out of 10 people ask me,’what’s up with the gas prices?’ One day last week, non ethanol gas went up 53 cents in a few days. From one delivery to the next,” Barnes said.
The sign at the Shell station across the street read $3.72 per gallon. At Crockett Brothers Incorporated, it was $3.76. A little higher in part because employees pump the gas for drivers, and also offer oil changes, among other services.
So why the jump in prices? Jenkins said it has to do with a decrease in inventory, an increase in demand, and the potential conflict in Ukraine.
“There is seasonal maintenance and changes at the refineries. It happens every year. Refineries switch over to a “summer blend” gasoline, which must be in the pumps by June first. Many suppliers tend to draw down their supplies of gasoline at this time of year, as not to be left with higher RVP fuel they can no longer sell by May 1. The disruption can send prices soaring. The mere threat can put pressure on the price. An increased demand,” explained Jenkins. “And with tension in the Ukraine, things can change. It doesn’t have an impact on our supply, it’s more about the price of oil. And that’s determined on a global scale.”
Jenkins said the price of crude oil impacts two thirds of the price of gasoline. AAA predicts prices at the pump will peak at $3.75 per gallon. And while Jenkins said AAA is confident the price of gas won’t reach $4 a gallon, he also warned there’s no “definite” when it comes to gas prices.
As for Pam Barnes, she plans on “driving smart.”
“In town driving is hard on the car. If I have to go shopping, I’ll do everything in one go, and combine trips,” she said.
AAA has more tips to saving money at the pump: maintain your cars recommended tire pressure, clean the air filters, slow down on the roadways; AAA said for every five miles you drive over 50 miles per hour, you’ll pay on average an additional 24 cents at the pump. Also, don’t use your trunk as storage. The heavier your car, the more fuel it uses. In addition, AAA recommends combining errands, avoid warming up your car for long periods of time in the morning, use your air conditioning, and shop around for the best gas price in your area.