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Gas prices continue to rise

While crude oil prices remain steady

Photo by M.J. Subiria Arauz
The Citgo Food Mart in Jonesboro was selling regular unleaded gasoline for $3.49 a gallon, Wednesday. The current average price for unleaded gasoline in Georgia is $3.52 a gallon.

Photo by M.J. Subiria Arauz The Citgo Food Mart in Jonesboro was selling regular unleaded gasoline for $3.49 a gallon, Wednesday. The current average price for unleaded gasoline in Georgia is $3.52 a gallon.

Wayne Kerr was pumping gasoline into his vehicle at the Citgo Food Mart on South McDonough Street, in Jonesboro –– and complaining. He said the rising gas prices are affecting his personal life.

“It is kind of a strain,” the Morrow resident lamented.

He likened the purchase of gas to making mortgage payments, because both are necessities. “They need to start pumping oil here in America,” he said. “They need to make things better for us.”

Kerr’s plea, notwithstanding, the national agency that monitors gas prices, does not indicate any changes soon. AAA The Auto Club Spokeswoman Jessica Brady said the average price of regular unleaded gasoline in Georgia is $3.52 a gallon, an increase of 3 cents from last week.

Florida’s average price is at $3.65 a gallon, which rose 5 cents from the week before. Motorists in Tennessee are paying an average of $3.46 a gallon, 8 cents more than the week prior.

The national average price, she said, is at $3.51 a gallon, a 4-cent increase from last week.

“As long as Europe battles its debt issues, we’re going to see global oil demand diminish, along with Europe’s economic growth,” said Brady. “At some point, consumers should start to see retail gas prices stabilize, as historical trends have shown.”

She said crude oil prices, however, remained relatively stable for the fifth week in a row and closed on Feb. 17, at $98.67 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That is still below the $100-a-barrel mark, which –– if exceeded –– could drive gasoline pries higher, faster.

The price of a barrel of oil rose at the beginning of last week, mostly due to speculation that Greece would fix its debt troubles, Brady said. Prices rapidly fell as speculations were not actually fulfilled, and the European debt crisis continues to shadow over Greece.

This caused the euro’s value to sink after a two-week high, and helped raise the dollar, which placed downward pressure on crude oil prices, she said.

Furthermore, the International Energy Agency sliced its 2012 global oil demand forecast by 300,000 barrels per day, from its January forecast, said Brady.

The announcement lands at a time when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is producing 30.9 million barrels of oil a day, which is the most since October 2008, she explained.

U.S. oil demand keeps looking dull, however, she added.