Gasoline prices continue steady climb

Jeremy Ridings pumps gas Monday at GT Oil and Gas in Loudon. Content Exchange

Drivers hoping for financial relief at the gas pump must wait a little longer as prices continue to rise nationwide.

Megan Cooper, Tennessee public and government relations consultant for AAA, said this marks the second straight week of double-digit increases in gas price averages across the state.

“Since Monday, our state average has increased about four cents total,” Cooper said in an email correspondence. “It does seem like the rate of increase in our local gas prices, on average, has slowed compared to recent weeks. It’s too soon to know if this is a trend that will continue in the coming weeks, but it is definitely welcome news in comparison to the recent jumps at the pump.”

According to AAA Auto Group, 9% of gas stations in Tennessee have prices below $3, with the lowest and highest 10% of pump prices for regular unleaded being $2.98 and $3.39, respectively. The state’s average is $3.16, which is 11 cents more than last week. A year ago the state average was $1.91.

According to GasBuddy, prices in Loudon County were hovering around $3.09 on Monday, but some are as high as $3.19. The lowest in Loudon County was $2.94 at Love’s Truck Stop in Lenoir City.

“The biggest driving factor right now in increasing pump prices is the price of crude oil, which accounts for about half of the price that we see at the pump,” Cooper said. “This week, crude oil has still consistently stayed above the $80 per barrel mark. Looking ahead to the next few weeks, if the price of crude oil remains elevated, especially above $80/barrel, we can expect for pump prices to remain elevated as well. In general, the bigger swings that we see in crude oil prices, the more substantial impact we see that trickles down to local pump prices.

“The last two weeks are a great example of this,” she added. “It’s likely that if crude oil prices remain high, but relatively stable, Tennesseans can expect to see some fluctuations in pricing, but definitely not to the degree that we’ve seen in the last two weeks.”

Oil refineries switched to winter blends as of Sept. 15, which Cooper said typically calls for a decline in prices due to lower demand and cheaper refinery costs. A decline in gasoline stocks and elevated crude oil prices have put upward market pressure on prices, she said.

“Should we start to see relief in crude oil prices, these factors could potentially help to stabilize gas prices,” Cooper said. “Right now, unfortunately, the upward pressure from crude oil pricing is outweighing the benefits of these two factors.”

Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy head of petroleum analysis, hopes drivers may soon have a “light at the end of the tunnel.”

“The sharp rise we’ve seen over the last three weeks should begin slowing down soon, barring another jump in the price of oil,” De Haan said. “This is because gasoline prices have now largely caught up to the jump in oil that started nearly a month ago. This isn’t an all clear for the future, however, as oil prices could rise again at any time. But for now, oil has held around $83 per barrel, and without a further climb, gas price increases should slow down soon in the bulk of the nation.”

This article originally ran on Content Exchange