VALDOSTA, Ga. — Gas prices in Valdosta and across the nation crept upward last week before the landfall of a hurricane which could drive prices even higher.
The average price of a gallon of gasoline in Valdosta Sunday was $2.19, an increase of three cents from seven days earlier, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report.
The lowest price for gas reported in the city Sunday was $2.07 at a store on North St. Augustine Road, according to the price tracking website gasbuddy.com. The highest price reported Sunday was $2.45 at a Northside Drive retailer.
Not all Valdosta gasoline retailers' prices are reported on gasbuddy, which depends on volunteer reporters.
Nationally, the average price of automotive fuel Sunday was $2.36 a gallon, up from $2.34 a week earlier, while Georgia's average of $2.25 showed a four cent increase in the same period, according to the auto club.
Friday night's landfall of Hurricane Harvey as a powerful Category 3 storm on the Texas coast was expected to have an impact on fuel prices across the nation, especially the South. One-third of America's oil refinery capacity is in low-lying areas the storm hit.
“A hurricane like this typically causes an increase in fuel purchases in the market and a slowdown in retail demand,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “Spikes in pump prices due to the effects of hurricanes tend to be brief but dramatic."
Harvey’s largest impact is likely to be significant reduction of crude imports into the Gulf Coast, affecting refineries’ crude production rates, according to an auto club statement.
In Friday market action, benchmark U.S. crude added 44 cents to settle at $47.87 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 37 cents to $52.41 per barrel.
Wholesale gasoline was little changed at $1.67 per gallon, heating oil was virtually unchanged at $1.62 per gallon and natural gas fell 6 cents to $2.89 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.