Metro Atlanta gas prices hit all-time high as U.S. bans Russia oil

Metro Atlanta gas prices broke past their previous record high on Tuesday, propelled by the continuing war in Ukraine and the U.S. government’s move to ban imports of Russian oil.

The average price of a gallon of regular in metro Atlanta was $4.19 a gallon in the late afternoon, eight cents higher than the crest reached in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, according to GasBuddy, which uses information from drivers to track prices around the country.

After adjusting for inflation, that post-hurricane high in the late summer of 2005 was the equivalent of $5.81 a gallon today. But even if not as economically damaging as the earlier spike, the recent surge in prices has still been a shock to drivers.

National U.S. map of gas prices by state as of Tuesday March 8. Graphic by ArLuther Lee, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: ArLuther Lee

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Credit: ArLuther Lee

A week ago, metro Atlanta gas averaged $3.52. A month ago, prices averaged $3.30. In mid-January, gas in the region averaged $3.11 a gallon.

Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted Tuesday afternoon that he was working with the Georgia legislature to suspend temporarily the state’s motor fuel tax, which would help lower costs for consumers.

Most U.S. gasoline is refined from oil domestically. While gas prices depend partly on the amount and type of gasoline produced, as well as transport and other costs, the biggest component is the price of crude oil, and oil is part of a global market.

That market has been in high gear since Russia invaded Ukraine. Following news Tuesday that the U.S. is banning Russian oil imports, energy traders pushed global oil prices above $125 a barrel. A month ago, oil was trading in the low $90 range.

That trading generally flows through to the price of gas at the pump, but usually not as rapidly as during a crisis.

A slew of area stations were selling gas for more than $4.50 a gallon. Only one — in Kennesaw — had breached $5-a-gallon, according to GasBuddy.

The lowest-priced gas in the early afternoon was a Stone Mountain Chevron, which was pricing gas at what now seems like a subterranean $3.19 a gallon.

President Joe Biden announced he will ban all Russian oil imports, toughening the toll on Russia’s economy in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine, acknowledging that it will bring costs to Americans at the gas pump.

The action follows pleas by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for the United States and its allies to cut Russian energy imports, which account for much of that nation’s income.