Chattanooga area gas prices highest in a decade ahead of Halloween weekend, but motorists aren't scared to travel more

·2 min read

Oct. 26—Motorists filling up with gas for the Halloween weekend are facing the scariest prices in a decade, but the higher fuel prices don't appear to be spooking travelers off the road.

Gas prices for late October are at their highest level for this time of the year since 2011 with average prices at the pump in Chattanooga up 72%, or $1.31 per gallon, from the same time a year ago. But fuel demand continues to grow as the economy rebounds from the Covid-19 pandemic slowdown last year.

Chattanooga gas prices rose in the past week to $3.11 per gallon for regular gas, up 28.6 cents per gallon from a month ago and $1.31 a gallon more than a year ago. Despite the jump in prices, however, Chattanooga gas prices remained among the lowest in Tennessee and were 25 cents a gallon below the U.S. average of $3.36 a gallon, Gasbuddy.com reported.

"The sharp rise we've seen over the last three weeks should begin slowing down soon, barring another jump in the price of oil," said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. "Gasoline prices have now largely caught up to the jump in oil that started nearly a month ago. This isn't an all-clear for the future, however, as oil prices could rise again at any time."

Indeed on Monday, oil futures briefly rose as much as 2% to top $85 a barrel for the first time since 2014. But prices later fell and oil prices ended the day virtually unchanged.

Regular gas is still available below $3 a gallon at 9% of Tennessee service stations, according to AAA surveys. The cheapest gas in Chattanooga on Monday in Chattanooga was at a Valero station on Ringgold Road in East Ridge where regular gas was priced at $2.79 a gallon, one of the lowest prices in the state.

Although gas prices have risen steadily since last November and are now at the highest price since September 2014, motorists are still traveling more as more workers return to their worksites and more vacationers hit the road for traveling vacations again.

"With the U.S. economy slowly recovering from the depths of the pandemic, demand for gas is robust, but the supply is tight," said Megan Cooper, spokesperson, AAA — The Auto Club Group.

Global oil production also is still below pre-pandemic levels. According to new data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), total domestic gasoline stocks decreased by 5.4 million barrels last week. However, gasoline demand last week also increased from 9.19 million barrels a day to 9.63 million barrels a day.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6340

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