You recall the tale about a frog that is placed in cold water that is slowly heated until the frog is boiled to death?
Motorists may be feeling a bit like that proverbial frog at the gas pumps. Metro Atlanta gas prices — up 3 cents in a week to an average $3.52 — continue a gradual climb that analysts warn could reach as high as $4 a gallon by May.
“Overall, gas prices increased about 3 cents from last week and unfortunately, they are likely to increase again this week, albeit minimal,” said analyst Jessica Brady, a AAA spokeswoman.
The national average price of regular unleaded gas is $3.50, a 3-cent increase from last week, Brady noted. Georgia’s average of $3.52 a gallon and Florida’s average of $3.63, both increased 3 cents from last week. Tennessee’s average price of $3.44 increased 6 cents from last week.
A sluggish U.S. economy that’s lowering demand for oil, Europe’s economic crisis and the early shutdown of numerous U.S. oil refineries for maintenance are primary reasons for the creeping prices at the pump.
“As long as Europe battles their 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. It’s very evident the rate of increase at the pump has slowed, but we’re still paying more week after week and closed refineries are still taking the blame.”
Brady explained that multiple refineries shut down in February in the Northeast, Texas and Louisiana. Typically, refineries go into maintenance mode at the start of March to begin switching from a winter fuel blend to the more expensive summer blend. As even more refineries go off line in March, the average price of gas will continue to rise, she told the AJC.
In metro Atlanta on Sunday, gas prices were 44.5 cents a gallon higher than the same day a year ago and are 11.5 cents a gallon higher than a month ago, noted GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick. The national average has increased 12.3 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 34.8 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago, he said. Some of the largest cities – New York and Los Angeles, for example – are already closing in on $4 a gallon,” noted DeHaan.
Track gas prices in and around in Metro Atlanta.