By Johnny Jackson
McDonough resident, Len Reliford, threw his hands up in dismay Monday as he pumped frustratingly pricey gas at a local filling station.
"It's ridiculous," Reliford said, after paying $3.19 per gallon of regular unleaded. The 29-year-old said he can remember when gas prices were 98 cents per gallon.
On Monday, gas prices in metro Atlanta sustained an all-time high of $3.20 per gallon for regular unleaded. The $3.20 average motorists are paying now is about 77 cents more than they paid this time a year ago.
The hike in prices has not affected Reliford's travel habits as much as his wife's, who has a much longer commute. He said he lives only a few miles from his job, but his wife has to travel about 45 miles one-way, each day, to work.
"We're basically getting robbed," he said. "Lower the crude oil prices."
Last week, crude oil reached another all-time high on the NYMEX, trading at $105.97 a barrel.
The world crude oil price spiked from $95.15 a barrel the week before and $86.80 a barrel one month ago, pushing gas prices throughout the Southeast to record highs, according to the Energy Information Administration.
"Not only are we in the beginning of the annual spring gasoline price ramp-up, we're still seeing a U.S. Dollar that is substantially devalued against the euro, which just encourages the rally on crude oil to continue," said Randy Bly, spokesman for AAA Auto Club South. Crude oil settled at $105.15 on NYMX back on March 7.
Nationwide, regular unleaded gas prices averaged about $3.22 per gallon, up from $2.53 a year ago.
With average gas prices at record levels in the Southeast and more record crude oil prices, motorists should be prepared to pay much more at the pumps this spring as well, Bly said.
"As U.S. oil refineries prepare to temporarily shut-down for their annual spring maintenance, and begin to switch from refining winter blends of fuel to the more expensive summer blends - decreasing gasoline supplies - fuel prices could escalate to an average of $3.75 per gallon or more," he added.
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