Lowndes gasoline prices skyrocket

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VALDOSTA — Gasoline prices in Lowndes County skyrocketed during the last week, following state and national trends.

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in Valdosta early this week was $2.51, up a hefty 16 cents from a week before, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

The least expensive fuel price reported in the county early this week was $2.39 per gallon at a Hahira store, according to the price tracking website gasbuddy.com. That doesn’t include prices at buying clubs, where only club members get the lowest prices.

Valdosta had the seventh most expensive gasoline of the 15 Georgia markets monitored by the auto club — behind Savannah, Hinesville, Brunswick, Atlanta and Athens but ahead of Warner Robins, Rome, Macon, Dalton, Columbus, Catoosa, Augusta and Albany.

Nationally, the average price of gasoline was $2.64 per gallon, an increase of 13 cents during seven days, while the Georgia average of $2.52 per gallon was up 11 cents in the same period, AAA said.

Analysts blamed much of the price spike on the freezing weather that has socked in much of the Midwest, forcing the closure of some Midwest and Gulf coast refineries.

“When close to 40% of U.S. crude production is offline because refineries are closed, there is going to be pain at the pump until operations resume,” said Jeanette Casselano McGee, AAA spokesperson. “The good news is the nearly two dozen impacted refiners are expected to restart operations this week, if they haven’t already. That means regular gasoline deliveries will resume and impacted stations will be re-fueled.”

In midday market action early this week, U.S. benchmark crude added 31 cents to $59.55 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell $1.27 to $59.26 per barrel on Friday. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 50 cents to $63.41 a barrel.

Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.

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