Middle East protests could force Georgia gas prices up

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON - The effect of the widescale protests in the Middle East on American gas prices is hard to predict, but it's likely Georgians will see at least a slight increase, according to a spokeswoman for AAA Auto Club South.

"It is likely we will see gas prices continue to rise. Although unrest overseas has not yet directly affected oil distribution or production, it's still a very big concern among oil investors and for the market itself," said AAA spokeswoman Jessica Brady.

On Friday, crude oil prices jumped 20 cents from what they were a week prior, not a significant increase, Brady said. Whether prices will continue to climb depends on how the protests unfold. The worst case scenario would be that protests in Yemen and Bahrain spread into Saudi Arabia, affecting oil refining and exporting.

"It definitely looks like it's going up but how high it will go and to what point is really unsure. Any piece of news could sway it up or down," Brady said.

Average gas prices in Georgia increased by 4 cents from a week ago. The current average is $3.09 per gallon. The national average is $3.17 per gallon.

"Georgia may start to catch up to where other state averages are. Prices vary quite a bit throughout the state of Georgia depending on location," Brady said, noting that several factors, including nearby competition and cost of transporting the gas, which can be higher for rural areas, all play a part in determining price.