Gas prices are pushing upward into the new year and are less than a nickel away from the price motorists were paying at this time last year.
AAA credits several factors for the increase.
For the first time in two months, oil prices jumped to $100 a barrel after a government report showed supplies for oil, gasoline and heating oil fell as demand increased. According to the Energy Information Administration, crude inventories decreased by 4.8 million barrels. At the same time, U.S. refineries are operating at 93 percent capacity.
Other factors include the value of the euro, which gained 1.5 percent on the dollar.
The average price of a gallon of gasoline in Georgia is $3.22, just 3 cents lower than the prices seen last year.
In December 2012, prices started climbing in Georgia and steadily rose until reaching about $3.60 per gallon in February. Prices began to drop around March.
It’s unclear whether this year could follow the same patterns, but AAA predicts prices will continue to rise at least into January.
“The jump in crude prices means more expensive gasoline,” AAA spokeswoman Jessica Brady said. “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.”