Gas prices rising ahead of spring break
by Sarah Fay Campbell
Coweta schools will be on spring break next week, and as expectations of travel rise, so have gas prices.
Georgia’s average price for regular unleaded has risen 14.6 cents in the past month, according to GasBuddy.com.
The state average rose 5.6 cents in the past week, compared to a national average that only rose 1.8 cents per gallon. Prices are 5.6 cents per gallon lower than they were at this time last year.
In Newnan on Tuesday, the cheapest regular unleaded was $3.43, according to GeorgiaGasPrices.com.
The rise in prices has been attributed to a reduction in gasoline stocks and an increase in the price of ethanol.
"While gasoline prices have seen slight increases in the last week, it still may get worse,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. "Last week, the EIA (Energy Information Administration) reported a large drop in gasoline inventories as refiners purged supplies of winter spec gasoline. Refineries also utilized a lower amount of their capacity as maintenance season continues.
“In the next few weeks, as maintenance is finished, there could be localized price spikes,” he said. "While gasoline prices are lower than I would have expected a few months ago, there is still some risk for higher prices in the days ahead," DeHaan said.
Rail networks have slowed shipments around the country, and slow-moving trains that have forced ethanol producers to trim back production, “which has led ethanol inventories to drop to levels just above record lows that occurred in 2010,” DeHaan said.
Ethanol prices are now higher than prices for regular gasoline, before taxes, said DeHaan. That’s the first time in two years.
“The high cost of ethanol and the requirement to blend ethanol into conventional gasoline is pulling retail gasoline prices higher,” DeHaan said.
“It may take several weeks to get logistics sorted out,” DeHaan said. In the meantime, “motorists will be paying more for gasoline containing ethanol, which is a required blending component in most of the nation’s gasoline.”