Higher gas pump prices likely in new year

Demand is starting to creep up, taking gas prices with it

ALBANY — The new year is generally seen to open with promise, but one motorists might not like is the promise of more pain at the pump in 2014.

But that’s what the new year likely is bringing with it, according to an organization that keeps a close eye on retail gas prices.

“There’s a lot of upward momentum on oil prices right now and it’s expected to continue into January,” said Jessica Brady, AAA spokesperson, The Auto Club Group. “The jump in crude prices means more expensive gasoline.

“The increased demand is taken as a sign the economy is improving and fuels optimism that the growth will continue in the new year. Motorists will see gas prices increase for the next few weeks, before relief is in sight.”

The cost of a barrel of oil topped $100 Friday and, for the first time in two months, the government reported that supplies for gas, oil and heating fuel declined because of increased demand.

AAA officials said that crude inventories decreased by 4.8 million barrels, according to the Energy Information Administration, while U.S. refineries were operating at 93 percent capacity, the highest percentage since July.

According to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report, the average cost of a gallon of gas in the United States Monday morning was $3.312, an increase of 6.2 cents from the previous Monday. That price is 3.8 cents higher than a month ago and also is 2 cents higher year-to-year.

In Georgia, led by Atlanta’s state-best average pump price of $3.184, the average cost of a gallon of retail gas Monday morning was $3.207, up 3.3 cents in a week but still below last month’s $3.257 and last year’s $3.251.

Closer to home, Albany motorists were paying the third-highest average of the state’s eight metro areas Monday at $3.26, up 7 cents since the previous Monday. That number, however, was below last month’s average of $3.311 and is a year-to-year improvement over the $3.315 Albany motorists were paying on Dec. 30, 2012, according to the Fuel Gauge Report.

Following Atlanta, the metro area averages, in order, were Augusta, $3.191; Athens, $3.201; Macon, $3.204; Columbus, $3.206; Albany; Valdosta, $3.288, and Savannah, $3.331.