Prices at the pump have increased in recent weeks and could continue to rise through September, experts say. In Augusta, the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose 6 cents in the past week to $3.37.
“We are going to see prices go up the remainder of this month, into August and probably continue until Labor Day,” AAA spokeswoman Jessica Brady said.
Prices across Georgia and the nation also rose – 8 cents and 6 cents more than last week, respectively.
In South Carolina, gas prices were the cheapest in the nation. A gallon of regular fuel cost $3.33 Monday, or 6 cents more than a week ago.
The price of crude oil is at a 16-month high caused by drops in oil supplies, Middle East tensions and high demand for fuel, AAA said. Gas prices could rise even higher if a hurricane threatens.
The cost of a barrel of oil closed Friday at $108.05 – $2.10 more than the previous week.
The summer vacation season increases demand and contributes to higher gas prices but does not explain fluctuations on its own, Brady said.
In both 2011 and 2012, fuel prices rose after July Fourth through Labor Day, which is observed on the first Monday in September. Factors contributing to the rise were different each year.
This time a year ago, the average Georgia fuel price was 18 cents less and the national average was 21 cents less. European sanctions against Iran and the ongoing European debt crisis contributed to last summer’s high prices, Brady said.
The rising prices haven’t gotten high enough to affect travel, Brady said. People won’t cancel vacations but are likely to make small adjustments in other areas of disposable spending such as dining out and entertainment.
“Prices are high but they aren’t at a breaking point right now for people,” she said.