Atlanta gas prices at seven-year high as holidays approach

211123-Decatur-Gas prices are up around metro Atlanta, including on Candler Road in Decatur on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, ahead of Thanksgiving. Ben Gray for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Caption
211123-Decatur-Gas prices are up around metro Atlanta, including on Candler Road in Decatur on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, ahead of Thanksgiving. Ben Gray for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

Metro Atlanta drivers face the highest Thanksgiving gasoline prices ever as many hit the road for this week’s holiday.

The increase in demand for gas that accelerated after vaccines became available is still outstripping the energy industry’s ramp-up in production. That’s been pushing up prices. Last Thanksgiving, gas was $1.94 a gallon; Tuesday, the price averaged $3.26 a gallon in the Atlanta area.

This week’s price is a couple pennies lower than it was earlier this month, but it’s a few cents higher than the previous record for Thanksgiving, which was set in 2013, according to Gas Buddy.

While nowhere near the highest price on record, gas prices have been taking a bite from the budgets of consumers. The price hike also is rattling an economy already coping with supply chain delays and higher costs for various commodities.

The White House has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate why a drop in gas wholesale prices has not yet been passed along to consumers.

Aiming to ease the spike, the Biden administration Tuesday announced plans to release 50 million barrels of oil from the nation’s strategic reserve.

Caption
211123-Atlanta-Traffic heads north on the Connector just south of downtown ahead of Thanksgiving on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021. Ben Gray for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

211123-Atlanta-Traffic heads north on the Connector just south of downtown ahead of Thanksgiving on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021. Ben Gray for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Caption
211123-Atlanta-Traffic heads north on the Connector just south of downtown ahead of Thanksgiving on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021. Ben Gray for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

That will trim prices by 5 to 15 cents a gallon, said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for Gas Buddy, which tracks prices and availability nationally.

But gas prices depend on oil prices, and oil is a global market. So whether Biden’s move provides relief for long will depend largely on decisions made in next month’s meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

While no longer as powerful as in decades past, OPEC still controls 30% of the world’s production. If its members decide to pump less, prices will likely rise.

In the meantime, Georgia drivers average 18,334 miles per vehicle each year, the fifth-highest among the states and District of Columbia, according to data collected by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

More than 53 million Americans are expected to travel this Thanksgiving holiday, according to the AAA Auto Group.

Nearly 1.6 million Georgians will travel for the holiday, just 3% fewer than before the pandemic, said Debbie Haas, vice president at AAA. “It’s beginning to look more like a normal holiday travel season, compared to what we saw last year.”

The highest price for gasoline came in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, when a gallon in metro Atlanta briefly averaged $4.11 a gallon.


Metro Atlanta gas prices, Tuesday

2021, cheapest: Murphy, Locust Grove: $2.93

2021, most expensive gas: Shell, Acworth, $4.14

Average gas price in metro Atlanta, two days before Thanksgiving

2021: $3.26

2020: $1.94

2019: $2.48

2018: $2.37

2017: $2.35

2016: $2.09

Note: All prices for a gallon of regular

Source: Gas Buddy

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Average mileage per vehicle

Wyoming: 24,069

Mississippi: 19,966

New Mexico: 19,157

Missouri: 18,521

Georgia: 18,334

Indiana: 18,024

Minnesota: 17,909

Alabama: 17,817

Source: Metromile Insurance, U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration

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