Monday January 21st, 2019 11:19PM

Georgia gas prices hover just under $2.50

By Alyson Shields Reporter

Gas price tracking agencies are split on whether prices rose or fell this past week, with about a one cent margin.
AAA reports Georgia prices increased by a penny, much like the rest of the country this week, with a statewide average at $2.49, while reports a half-cent decrease and prices coming to a rest at $2.46.
"Motorists got some relief from rising gas prices over the weekend," said Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA. "The futures market was uninspired last week, and wholesale gasoline dropped a nickel. While we could some small discounts this month, those will likely be erased as we move into refinery maintenance season. Typically maintenance season reaches its peak in mid-March. This results in reduced refinery output and rising prices at the pump."
GasBuddy data showed that the prices were about $2.18 this day last year and $1.71 two years ago. Prices in Atlanta touched $2.50 a gallon, down a cent and half from last week.
Brunswick had the highest price in the state this past week, according to AAA, at $2.53 and the least expensive price was in Warner Robins at $2.42.
Crude oil prices are trading at $33 per barrel more than this time two years ago, when gasoline prices were under $2 a gallon. Prices for oil have settled at $65.45 a barrel as of Friday.
Oil prices leveled out after the EIA's latest energy report showed gains in domestic crude inventory levels. This was the first measurable growth in U.S. crude supplies in the last 11 weeks, thanks to lower refinery runs, higher crude oil production and imports. More positive news is that domestic oil production is closing in on 10 million barrels per day, which would nearly double the amount seen a decade ago.
GasBuddy agreed, with Head of Petroleum Analysis Patrick DeHaan saying the numbers were unusually high, if you looked past the prices from Hurricane Harvey. "While oil production in the U.S. reaches highs not seen since the 1970's, OPEC's production cuts for the last year have weighed heavily on global inventories, mitigating any small rise in U.S. production. And the damage could get even worse as refinery maintenance season and summer gasoline is on the horizon. This has been a storm brewing since the Obama administration legalized oil exports and OPEC decided to forgo market share to tighten global supply. All of this and more will lead to average gas prices being 25-50 cents per gallon higher by Memorial Day."

AAA adds there are several other factors providing a floor for current crude prices. Domestic inventory levels remain significantly lower than last year (-15%), and since U.S. oil exports are at record highs, it is difficult to establish significant supply builds. In addition, low oil production from Venezuela, high Chinese demand, and OPEC's 1.8 million barrel per day production cuts, are all keeping upward pressure on oil prices.
GasBuddy and AAA follow gas price trends differently, with GasBuddy using real time consumer reporting and AAA surveying credit card swipe data at service stations.

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Georgia gas prices hover just under $2.50
Gas price tracking agencies are split on whether prices rose or fell this past week, with about a one cent margin.
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