Fuel prices inching higher

Published 9:05 pm Thursday, April 16, 2009

Those filling up their tanks lately have noticed gas prices creeping up ever so slowly, 15 cents in the past month. But, state officials do not expect gas prices during the upcoming driving season to reach levels anywhere near last year’s highs.

“Last year we saw prices over $4 a gallon,” Clay Ingram, spokesman for AAA Alabama, said. “We don’t get into the forecasting business, but we don’t expect prices to get crazy like that again.”

Ingram said the decreased demand by consumers, combined with low crude oil prices and increased production capacity at the nation’s refineries has kept prices low compared to previous years.

“We do expect gas prices to continue to rise over the next few weeks as the summer driving season approaches and demand increases,” Ingram said. “January and February are the lowest months of the year as far as demand, and then it starts increasing into the summer.”

Because of the slow economy, Ingram expects more drivers to find summer vacation destinations “closer to home.”

“People are cutting back everywhere and I would expect them to try to find places closer to home to vacation this year,” Ingram said. “But, people are still going to go to Disney World or Universal, they just might not stay as long and spend as much.”

As of Thursday afternoon, the average price of regular unleaded gasoline in the Clanton area was $1.96 compared to a much-larger average of $3.32 on the same date in 2008.