Originally created 03/30/02

Travel, demand push gas prices up



Gas prices are up more than 20 cents a gallon and won't be coming down anytime soon.

Steve Godin won't let his blood pressure rise with the prices at the gas pump.

"I kind of just go with the flow," said Mr. Godin, of Appling. "I know it's going up, but there's not a whole lot I can do about it."

That philosophy might keep his heart healthy this season, but springtime gasoline prices will exact a toll on his wallet - and everybody else's.

Prices have risen by more than 20 cents during the past month. With warmer weather arriving, prices likely won't fall anytime soon, said Judy Reville, the division manager for the Augusta branch of AAA.

"The travel season is upon us," Ms. Reville said. "We see this every year. Early spring is the time when it starts."

Besides increased demand, the increases also can be traced to demand for reformulated gasoline, Ms. Reville said.

Reformulated gasoline produces fewer pollutants than traditional fuel. Its use is required in many cities blighted by smog. But demand for the gasoline has outstripped supply, driving up prices, Ms. Reville said.

"Motorists consume the fuel that's already in reserve before an adequate supply of reformulated gas is produced for consumption," she said.

Augusta's average gas price was about $1.22 a gallon for regular unleaded gasoline Friday, according to AAA's Fuel Gauge Report at www.aaa.com.

The local average was up 24 cents from last month and was nearly equal to last year's price at this time.

The statewide average Friday was equal to Augusta's, at $1.22 a gallon, the report showed.

But Augusta's prices remained far below the national average, which also has skyrocketed during the past month. The national average was $1.35 a gallon Wednesday, compared with $1.13 a month ago, the report stated.

Last year, the national average was $1.43 a gallon, the report said.

"When we compare prices to last year's, it's still a bargain," Ms. Reville said.

Reach Brandon Haddock at (706) 823-3409 or bhaddock@augustachronicle.com.



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