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Gas prices rise in metro Atlanta

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Across the nation, gas prices are rising back up to pre-Labor Day Weekend, summer travel season levels. And the news is the same locally, according to officials with AAA Auto Club South.

AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report revealed that Georgia's average gas prices crept up about 2 cents, between Monday and Tuesday, surpassing average prices, by 3 cents, from a week earlier.

Crude oil supply is attached to the latest climb in gas prices, according to Jessica Brady, spokeswoman for AAA Auto Club South.

Brady said Enbridge Energy Partners LP, based in Houston, Texas, shut down a major pipeline last week in Illinois, after reports of an oil leak. The Illinois pipeline, she said, "is the primary supplier of western Canadian crude oil to the U.S. and can transfer more than 670,000 barrels of crude oil from Canada a day, and supplies multiple refineries in the area."

The AAA official said concerns over limited supplies in the region, coupled with falling U.S. inventories, pushed crude oil prices higher. "As with any increase in the price of crude oil, retail gas prices will follow suit and move slightly higher this week," Brady said. "Whether or not prices continue to increase depends on how soon workers can fix the leak in the Illinois pipeline."

Crude oil held below the $80 per barrel mark this week at around $76 per barrel, according to Bloomberg's Stock Market and Financial Markets Overview on Tuesday.

Georgia cities, such as Albany and Macon, have experienced 3-to-4 cent hikes in average prices over the past two days, while others, including Atlanta, only saw 1-cent increase, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

The report noted that the average price for regular unleaded gas increased by a little more than a penny in metro Atlanta, from Monday to Tuesday ($2.57 to $2.58 per gallon). Atlanta's average price for regular unleaded came in at 2 cents higher per gallon than the week prior -- still cheaper than the $2.64 per gallon the same time a month ago, and far cheaper than the $4.11 average set two years ago, on Sept. 16, 2008.

Officials with the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expect to see regular unleaded gas prices average $2.69 per gallon over the second half of 2010, down 7 cents from the average for the first half of the year.

Regular unleaded gas prices averaged $2.35 per gallon in 2009, but are projected to average as much as $2.90 per gallon in 2011, according to the EIA's Updated Short-Term Energy Outlook, released last week.