U.S. fuel demand drops, but gas prices rise

The price of crude oil fell after the demand for fuel in the U.S. decreased to its lowest level in a decade, according a spokesperson for AAA The Auto Club.

Jessica Brady said the U.S. Department of Energy reported that gasoline consumption declined to 8 million barrels a day, the lowest mark since 2001, which has caused crude oil prices to stay under $100 a barrel for the second consecutive week.

U.S. stockpiles of gasoline rose by 3.7 million barrels last week, to 227 million barrels, which is a 10-month high, she explained.

On Jan. 20, the price of crude oil settled at $98.46 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, a 24-cent decrease from the week prior, said Brady.

“The demand fundamentals remain weak, both in the U.S. and abroad, a main factor keeping oil prices below $100,” she said.

“China’s manufacturing numbers fell for a third month and Europe’s debt issues continued to place bearish pressure on the market.”

She said retail gasoline prices, which rose over the last week, should remain steady this week, as demand remains low.

Georgia’s average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline is currently $3.41, a 5-cent increase from last week, she said. The state’s average price is even 3 cents higher than the national average of $3.38 a gallon.

The average price for regular unleaded in Florida is $3.48 per gallon, 3 cents more than the week before. Motorists in Tennessee are paying, on average, $3.27 a gallon, an increase of 2 cents from the week prior, Brady said.