Local News

Gas prices getting pumped up again

Posted January 7, 2009 5:58 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— After weeks of decline, gas prices have started trending back up in recent days across North Carolina.

Statewide, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded jumped from $1.63 on Tuesday to $1.67 on Wednesday, according to AAA Carolinas. In the Triangle, the average rose from $1.64 to $1.68, and it went from $1.60 to $1.65 in Fayetteville, AAA said.

"They're going up a little bit, but they're nowhere near what they were. So that's satisfactory," driver Gary Lipe said.

Many drivers said they were relieved gas finally fell below the $3- to $4-a-gallon prices they paid last summer and fall.

"I'm 69 years old, and I never thought I'd ever see gas come down under $2 again back in July," driver James Griffin said.

As they watch prices start to rise, though, some are getting jittery about a return to those $100 fill-ups.

"It tells me there's more to come, unfortunately," driver Howard Cheshire said.

AAA Carolinas spokeswoman Carol Gifford said gas prices are impacted by many factors, but she said the crisis in the Gaza Strip and OPEC's decision last month to cut production by 2.2 million barrels a day are the two primary factors behind the recent price increases.

Gifford said she expects prices to keep rising for a few weeks before fluctuating up and down. A weak economy should keep prices from reaching the highs they hit last summer, she said.

“People are clearly driving less,” Gifford said, noting federal statistics show Americans drove 100 billion fewer miles in the year ended in November than during the previous year.

James Griffin Jr., the owner of Eutaw Exxon in Fayetteville, said he sold more gas when it cost more. The price for a gallon of regular jumped from $1.58 to $1.68 by noon Wednesday.

"We're used to it now. Prices change back and forth, seems like, on a day-to-day basis," Griffin said.

Driver June Malone said she relished the relatively cheap gas she put into her tank in recent weeks, and she said higher prices will again force her to cut back on her driving.

"I've been able to just drive and go wherever I want to, but now, with the prices going back up, I will go back to doing what I was doing when the prices were really higher, and that is, I didn't do as much driving," Malone said.