Despite dip below $3, gas prices on the rise again

Published 11:00 pm Monday, July 9, 2012

Written by Whitley Kilcrease

While motorists enjoyed a long-awaited respite at the gas pump for the Fourth of July holiday, prices climbed last week back to more than $3 per gallon.

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“Prices are rising in Alabama, as well as other coastal states,” Michael Green, manager for AAA Public Relations with an expertise in gas prices, said. “Alabama briefly flirted with going below $3 a gallon, but rates have risen above that in the past week.”

According to Green, last week Alabama saw its first seven-day increase since March. When gas prices peaked at $3.81 in early April, rates then decreased the following 75 out of 77 days, with the state average dropping as low as $3.05 per gallon. However, gas prices have been increasing steadily and are now up an average of 7.5 cents from last week.

“Alabama is in a great position, however, because it is still among the cheapest in the country,” Green said. “The state average is 72 cents less than when prices peaked in April and 38 cents less than it was on this day last year.”

According to Green, the national average is currently at $3.38 per gallon, while Alabama is among the top five least expensive state averages at $3.09 per gallon. South Carolina has the lowest average in the nation at $3.02 per gallon while Hawaii had the highest at $4.22 per gallon.

“It would be nice if the prices could stay down,” Pam Salter of Luverne said while pumping gas at CITGO in Troy (formerly Horizon). “I have to get diesel, so I never got to pay under $3. But, lower prices really help a lot when you’re paying $120 for a full tank.”

According to Green, the main reason for the gas price increase nationwide is a result of the rising price of crude oil.

He said there are expectations that European leaders are reaching a solution to the debt crisis and that the global economy will improve as a result. A boost to the economy also means a rising demand for oil products. This, in turn, raises rates at the pump. On Tuesday, crude oil was priced at $86 per barrel after dropping below $80 on June 30.

At press time Tuesday, Chevron on U.S. Highway 231 South had the lowest rate with $3.18 per gallon. CITGO, Murphy USA and Z-Tec, all on U.S. Highway 231 South and Pinckard’s on Elba Highway were close behind at $3.19 per gallon. BP on U.S. Highway 231 South and Texaco on Elba Highway had the highest prices at $3.21 per gallon.

“Right now, we see gas prices rise, but the good news is we are doing better than we were at the same time last year and when the prices peaked in April,” Green said. “It all depends on expectations about where the economy is going.”

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