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Gas prices on the rise

By Michael Davis

Pay attention to how much gas goes for these days? Diedra Green does.

Green, who was filling up at a gas station in McDonough Friday, said that while she tries to look for the cheapest prices in a rising market, sometimes, she has to take what she can get.

"If I'm running low I stop at the closest place," she said.

She's not alone.

Gas prices in Georgia have increased an average of 4.9 cents per gallon since Jan. 10, according to a recent AAA Auto Club study.

But at individual stations the price has skyrocketed in the last two weeks. At one Jonesboro station it went from $1.59 for unleaded two weeks ago to $1.76 on Friday.

Crude oil investors "skittish" about the upcoming Iraqi elections and speculation that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) may decide to cut crude oil production at its Jan. 30 meeting, AAA says, has contributed to an overall "increase in crude oil prices over the last month."

Scott Betsill has seen the effect.

The McDonough service station owner says that when gas prices go up, average consumers have a misconception that station owners are reaping huge profits.

"Every day it goes up and down," he said. "Everybody thinks we're making a whole lot of money but you're lucky to make 2-3 cents. Like yesterday, it went up 10 cents a gallon," he added.

Carlton Paul agrees.

The vice-president of Blalock Oil Co. in Jonesboro, which retails diesel and other fuels to grading contractors, said adjusting consumer prices to the wholesale price is a daily battle.

"It's a moving target – the first thing I have to do everyday is look at what it costs and see how I have to adjust my prices. I'll see my cost going up and on the street it's going down," Paul said.

AAA reports an average price per gallon in the Atlanta area is $1.768. The highest price Georgians are paying is $1.794 in the Savannah area.

In the Southeastern U.S., AAA reports an average cost of $1.82 per gallon.

"A few years back, 1/4-cent [increase] was a big move," Paul said. "Now, 5 cents is nothing."

Daily Herald photographer Rob Felt contributed to this article.

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On the net:

OPEC

http://www.opec.org

AAA Fuel Cost Calculator

http://www.fuelcostcalculator.com