Gas prices unusually high for this time of year

Published 6:14 pm Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Though its no shock for people who have recently filled up their car, gas prices are unusually high for this time of year — up 45 cents from a year ago.
The state average for fuel is $2.95 per gallon compared to last year’s average this time around of $2.50 per gallon.
With numerous factors determining the fluctuation, the reason behind the increase in prices is hard to pinpoint, said Clay Ingram, AAA public relations and marketing manager.
“Right before Christmas, we saw a jump in prices because of the holiday, which is expected, but January and February are usually when the prices lower again,” said Ingram. “One reason is, over the last month or better our demand is climbing pretty strongly right now, and it is speculated that it is because the economy is getting better.”
There has been an increase in the global demand for crude oil in the United States and gas prices will reflect that throughout the year, he said.
“The outlook for 2011 is good in our economy so it’s causing people to invest in crude oil, which is a sign of people feeling a little better about their personal situations,” said Ingram.
“People are going out and about a little bit more, and our prices will reflect that.”
The first two months of the year are usually the starting points, when demands for crude oil are at there lowest, and prices increase from there, but with prices starting high this year the chances of a decrease are slim.
“In 2010, the highest peak in prices for the year was in December, which is unusual because the summer and Memorial Day weekend are the highest price periods,” said Ingram. “Memorial Day is our peak price point of the year because it is the unofficial kickoff of summer and a lot of people begin traveling.
Prices may slightly decrease 5 to 25 cents depending on the stock market, demand and weather along with other factors in January and February, but sometimes the prices do not drop at all, Smith said.
“I hope we do see a little bit of a drop in the next few weeks,” said Smith. “But I think we will see higher prices in 2011 than in 2010.”