Gas prices in Chattanooga have risen to the highest level in six months and are likely to increase more this week in the wake of last week's attacks on Syria.
GasBuddy.com, which surveys 170 gas outlets in Chattanooga, said today that local prices at the pump rose 3.5 cents per gallon to $2.45 per gallon for regular gasoline. That's the highest since early last fall when prices briefly spiked up to an average of $2.54 per gallon after Hurricane Irma temporarily cut off some gas pipelines.
The AAA Auto Club said today that pump prices will get even more expensive this week and will likely rise to the highest level in more than two years, due to rising geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. The conflict in Syria sent crude prices to their highest point in more than three years, and as a result, motorists are about to feel the pain at the pump.
"Motorists should expect a 15 cent increase at the pump in the short term," said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA - The Auto Club Group. "However, prices could rise even more, depending on how the crude market responds to the latest news of a U.S. missile strike over the weekend."
Chattanooga gas prices still remain 25 cents per gallon below the U.S. average of $2.71 per gallon, according to Gasbuddy.com. But the U.S. dispute with Syria and the start of the traditionally busy spring and summer travel season are likely to push prices higher at the pump.
"The seasonal surge at gas pumps is in full motion, causing the most dreaded time of year for fearful motorists, especially of what may still be coming," said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.
The national average price for gasoline is the highest in more than two years, AAA said. Tennessee gas prices are the most expensive since last September, when prices were recovering from Hurricane Irma.
Crude prices rose more than $5 last week, which was the largest weekly increase in more than eight months. Crude oil prices rose due to the potential of U.S. sanctions Russia and Iran for their support of Syria. Syria itself has not exported oil since civil war broke out in 2011. However, the country receives fuel deliveries from Iran.
"With the national average gas price now at its highest since July 26, 2015, I can't immediately allay all fears of a continued spike in gas prices, however, we're likely in the closing innings of the seasonal rise," DeHaan said. "Let's just hope we don't go to extra innings. In the past few years, the average date that gas prices have peaked is mid-May, which is just around the corner, and by all metrics, that could be very close to what we expect this time around."