By Johnny Jackson
Average gas prices in Georgia remain below the national average, despite sharper spikes reported in several other states, particulalry Ohio and California.
The price for a gallon of regular unleaded increased by an average of 55 cents over the past month in Ohio, up to $2.80.
In metro Atlanta, Monday, the average price remained at $2.46 from the weekend, only about 43-cents higher than this time a month ago.
The national average is $2.61 per unit of regular unleaded gas, an increase of 11 cents per gallon in the past week. And that is still about $1.40 less than average prices a year ago.
The Southeast has not taken quite as heavy a hit in price hikes as other regions of the country. On Monday, AAA Auto Club South reported that Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina have average gas prices below $2.50 per gallon. Those states showed smaller, day-to-day average increases in the past week, as well.
California, however, has seen its average price for a gallon of regular jump 15 cents in the past week to a current average of $2.90 per gallon.
The price at the pump is being driven by consistently rising crude oil and wholesale gasoline prices, according to officials with AAA.
Crude oil, at nearly $70 per barrel, increased by more than $2 per barrel last week on the New York Mercantile Exchange, said Gregg Laskoski, spokesman AAA Auto Club South.
Wholesale gas prices, he noted, have increased by 140 percent since a Dec. 24 low of 79 cents per gallon, and have risen an average of 8 cents per gallon in the past week.
"Some oil analysts expect the rally for crude oil to end within a few weeks somewhere between $70 and $80 per barrel and, if that happens, then retail gasoline prices could peak at about the same time," Laskoski said.
"We don't know when that might occur," he said. "But, we believe a prolonged run-up in fuel prices is likely to instill consumer resistance in much the same way we saw last year, and that's obviously counter-productive to an economy trying to recover from recession."