Originally created 08/12/05

There's no relief at the gas pump

Find the "cheapest and closest" pump.

That's about all Augusta's David Sullivan says he can do as gas prices continue to climb.

On Thursday the region saw record prices, with the average cost of a regular gallon reaching $2.26, according to figures compiled by AAA Auto Club South.

"I can't believe this. It was $1.99 just three days ago over in North Augusta," Mr. Sullivan said while filling up his 1993 Toyota Blazer at the 15th Street Circle K in Augusta. "I'm just putting in about $15 to be able to get around."

Throughout the day, others moaned and groaned about the extra dollars they had to pay to fill their tanks, with a host of drivers even checking prices from home before heading out on the road.

Perhaps the only happy customer Thursday was Loganville, Ga., resident Quentin Florence, who smiled about paying $2.29 a gallon.

"In Atlanta I paid $2.39 for low-grade the other day; now it's even more," he said.

"So I'm excited about these prices."

Nationwide, the average price for regular fuel also broke records at about $2.40 a gallon Thursday, compared with $1.86 a year ago.

Judy Reville, a spokeswoman for AAA of Augusta, said the reason for the soaring costs continues to center on crude oil prices, which on Thursday zoomed above $65 a barrel. Other reasons include problems at U.S. refineries and an increase in the price of wholesale gasoline.

"The average wholesale amount is up 10 cents, so naturally that's going to be passed on to the consumer as well," she said.

As for the crude oil rate, a surge of $1 per barrel generally equates to an extra 2 cents a gallon on gas prices, and in mid-July crude oil was vastly lower, at $57 a barrel, according to Joanne Shore, a senior analyst with the Energy Information Administration.

Often, there's a lag before the increases hit the retail market, so gas prices will likely stay high for some time, she said.

"We haven't experienced all the increases we're going to see," Ms, Shore said, noting that prices should go down within a month.

"Once we get to Labor Day demand does tend to drop off, which causes prices to lower a bit."

Reach Dena Levitz at (706) 823-3339 or dena.levitz@augustachronicle.com.

Fuel-efficient Vehicles

The most fuel-efficient 2005 cars and the average fuel economy for city miles and highway miles for each, according to Consumer Reports.

1. Honda Insight (manual): 36/61

2. Toyota Prius: 35/50

3. Toyota Echo (manual): 29/46

4. Honda Civic Hybrid: 26/45

5. Scion xB (manual): 25/36

6. Scion xA (manual): 22/38

7. Toyota MR2 (manual): 25/36

8. MINI Cooper Base (manual): 23/38

9. Mazda3 i (manual): 21/42

10. Scion xB: 23/37


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