Pump, don’t look: Holiday gas prices near record high

Gas prices have been unusually high, thanks to a mix of factors: The Russian attack on Ukraine, the shortage of U.S. refinery capacity and the sluggishness of oil companies to expand drilling. The Uptown Station Exxon on Peachtree Street and Peachtree Circle in Midtown Atlanta had regular for $4.59 a gallon and diesel for $5.39 on Thursday, May 26, 2022. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Combined ShapeCaption
Gas prices have been unusually high, thanks to a mix of factors: The Russian attack on Ukraine, the shortage of U.S. refinery capacity and the sluggishness of oil companies to expand drilling. The Uptown Station Exxon on Peachtree Street and Peachtree Circle in Midtown Atlanta had regular for $4.59 a gallon and diesel for $5.39 on Thursday, May 26, 2022. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Memorial Day weekend, the start of the summer driving season, comes with some sticker shock.

Once the vehicle is in the gas station this weekend, the smart move for most highway travelers is probably just not to look as the pump gauge goes up, up, up.

Thanks to a variety of factors, drivers will see the highest pump prices ever for this Memorial Day holiday, averaging $4.12 a gallon for regular in metro Atlanta as of Friday morning. There is a small consolation: When inflation is taken into account, Memorial Day in 2008 was more expensive.

Metro Atlanta gas prices averaged $3.73 a gallon a month ago and $2.94 a year ago.

How much will you pay?

The driver of an SUV was paying a hefty $58.80 to fill up an empty, 20-gallon tank a year ago. This year, the price is a whopping $82.80.

And while the calculation wouldn’t apply to electric vehicles, gas-powered vehicles still account for about 97% of vehicle sales in Georgia.

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Memorial Day weekend traffic on I-75/I-85 southbound in Atlanta on Friday, May 27, 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Memorial Day weekend traffic on I-75/I-85 southbound in Atlanta on Friday, May 27, 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Combined ShapeCaption
Memorial Day weekend traffic on I-75/I-85 southbound in Atlanta on Friday, May 27, 2022. (Natrice Miller / natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Why are prices so high?

Gas prices have been rising for a year and remain high thanks to a mix of factors: The Russian invasion of Ukraine, the self-imposed constraints on production in Saudi Arabia, the shortage of U.S. refinery capacity and the sluggishness of oil companies to expand drilling after shutting down rigs early in the pandemic.

The demand for gas has also played a big role, according to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, which tracks fuel prices nationally. The more cars on the road, the more driving they do, the more consumption will challenge the supply of fuel and push up the price.

A gas tax reprieve?

High as they might seem, gas prices in Georgia are more than 40 cents a gallon lower than the U.S. average, according to AAA. That is largely because Gov. Brian Kemp suspended the 29.1-cent-a-gallon state gas tax in March. On Thursday, Kemp ordered an extension through July 14.


Paying more at the pump this Memorial Day

Average price, gallon of gas, metro Atlanta

Friday: $4.12

Week ago: $4.14

Month ago: $3.73

Year ago: $2.94

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Highest price, metro Atlanta

Shell, (Atlanta) - $4.79 a gallon

Lowest price, metro Atlanta

Marathon, (Milton) - $3.82 a gallon

Source: GasBuddy. Data as of Friday morning.

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