Gas prices up as Labor Day drivers hit the road

Saudi Arabia and Russia recently cut oil production, causing global spike in prices

As metro Atlanta drivers fill gas tanks before hitting the road for the Labor Day weekend, they’ll be spending significantly more than they did on July 4th, thanks to a spike in world oil prices.

A gallon of regular gas cost an average of $3.64 at stations in the region mid-day Thursday, according to Gas Buddy, which tracks gasoline and diesel prices nationally.

That’s up only a few pennies from a month ago, but it’s more than 45 cents above the price during the Independence Day holiday, which typically has the highest demand of the summer. Labor Day is generally second.

With U.S. oil production increasing and nearly back to pre-pandemic levels, the price push was mainly triggered overseas. The primary factor in gas prices is generally the global cost of its main ingredient — oil — and that price jumped in late July and August as Saudi Arabia and Russia cut production, according to Patrick DeHaan, Gas Buddy’s senior petroleum analyst.

The summer’s heat didn’t help as production of gasoline at several refineries was disrupted.

A year ago, the average price of a gallon in metro Atlanta was $3.40 a gallon, but the state gas tax had been suspended by Gov. Brian Kemp earlier in the year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine sent oil and gasoline prices skyrocketing.

Removing the state gas tax subtracted about 30 cents a gallon from pump prices.

Nationally, pump prices are almost exactly where they were a year ago — roughly 17 cents-a-gallon above what metro Atlanta drivers are paying.

But even around Atlanta, pump prices ranged widely.

Unselective, oblivious or desperate drivers could pay up to $4.19 a gallon on Thursday, according to Gas Buddy. The lowest price reported was $3.24 a gallon at a Marathon station in Lawrenceville, as well as several of the big retail chains.

Diesel prices ran an even wider spectrum. The highest-priced diesel fuel was available for $5.29 a gallon at a Shell in Decatur, with several other stations tied for second at $4.99 a gallon. The cheapest diesel was $3.39 at a Texaco in Kennesaw.

The growing number of drivers with electric vehicles, of course, face different challenges when it comes to fueling up.