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AAA cites 'a bump in the road' for falling gas prices

Johnson City Press • Dec 27, 2017 at 11:36 PM

On Wednesday, AAA reported new, unexpected heights for oil prices, causing a bump in the road for falling fuel costs.

Across the state, Tennessee gas prices climbed nearly a full cent overnight. The state average is $2.24 after rising 2 cents in the past week. On Christmas Day, the state average was $2.23, 14 cents more than the year before and the highest price for the holiday in three years. Still, Johnson City and the surrounding metro area reported some of the lowest gas prices in the state, averaging $2.17 for a gallon of regular unleaded gas. 

AAA said it’s difficult to predict prices for a number of reasons. Though oil refineries flooded the market in recent weeks in anticipation for the holidays, the price of oil exceeded $60 a barrel on the NYMEX on Tuesday, which was followed by a 3- to 4-cent increase at the pumps. Oil prices also rose after an unexpected explosion on a main pipeline in Libya that feeds one of the country’s export terminals. In addition, workers are still in the process of restoring service to pipelines in the North Sea.

"We may see moderate increases at the pump this week, but the downward trend should resume in the new year," AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said in a recent press release. "After the holidays, gasoline demand takes a sharp turn lower, because fewer people take extended road trips in January. The weak demand, plus high refinery output, should keep gas prices low. However, motorists should prepare for the seasonal 30-70 cent surge in the spring as refineries conduct maintenance."

Here are the highs and lows of 2017: 

• National: the highest average price for gasoline was $2.67 on September 8. The lowest was $2.23 on July 5.
• Tennessee: the highest average price was $2.60 on September 10. The lowest was $1.99 on July 5. 

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