LAURINBURG — Mary Callahan loves looking for retail bargains in Laurinburg.
But the 19-mile trek from her native Red Springs may not be such a good deal now that gasoline prices have shot up.
The cold spell impacting much of the United States has pushed natural gas demand to an all-time. In the past two years, the price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline has nearly doubled.
“I want [prices] to go down,” said Callahan, who was filing up this week at the Speedway store on Main Street. “I have to think more about where I’m driving.”
The national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $2.53, some areas were closer to $1 or more in 2016, according to Patrick DeHann, the head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.
“While winter is usually a time for modest declines at the pump, this year has seen anything but,” DeHaan said.
According to the Energy Information Administration, oil inventories stand at nearly 65 million barrels below where they were a year ago, which has boosted the strong demand for oil. They also reported that refineries have used 95.3 percent of their operable capacity in the last week, which surged the industry 4.1 million barrels.
The products being supplied to the marker is almost five percent higher than a year ago, likely due to the colder weather that has been seen across the county.
Officials said 48 of the states in the nation saw a rise in gasoline prices, with only Hawaii and Massachusetts falling by only fractions of a penny. The largest increase happened in the Great Lakes area, which is susceptible to price cycling. Price cycling is where prices plummet as before spiking again.
Michigan was the highest with a 12-cent rise in the last week. The state with the lowest gas prices in Missouri with an average $2.26 per gallon and the highest being Hawaii with an average of $3.30.
“One bright spot, however, is that gasoline production remains very strong at a time of year when it tends to be weak, and that could open the door for some larger discounts in the weeks ahead as refiners begin to move winter gasoline out of inventories to prepare for the transition to cleaner-burning gasoline,” DeHaan said.
North Carolina’s average price is $2.41.
At gas stations across Laurinburg, prices ranging from $2.39 to $2.45. In Wagram, the price ranged from $2.31 to $2.34 and Laurel Hill regular gasoline prices spanned from $2.38 to $2.42.
Consumer Davy Locklear is unhappy with the spike in prices.
“It’s weighing heavy on other expenses,” said Locklear, who stopped in Laurinburg on his way to Lumberton. “It causes us to cut back somewhere else.”
But Jordan McCrimmon, head cashier at the Speedway, said the increase has not slowed business aththe Laurinburg store.
“They’ve been in and out of here like crazy,” McCrimmon said.
Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-506-3171