published Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Local gas prices spike as Libyans revolt

Persistently high gas prices are taking their toll on fuel users of all types, from motorists and contractors to truckers and municipalities.

Chattanooga gas prices rose to a high of $3.36 per gallon Friday for regular gas and $3.67 for diesel, hitting consumers such as Crystal Degges.

  • photo
    Staff photo by Jenna Walker/Chattanooga Times Free Press - Mar 4, 2011 -- Phillip Hawkins, an employee of The W.D. Scott Co., Inc. Landscape Contracting, fills up his truck with diesel gas at Pacific Pride in Chattanooga, Tenn. In order to keep the engines clean, Hawkins uses diesel fuel. The price of diesel fuel continues to rise.

She spends as much as $1,000 per month on gas commuting from her home in Dayton, Tenn., to see her handicapped daughter in Chattanooga, a cost aggravated by the 10-mpg, handicap-accessible van she uses to transport the two of them, she said.

Prices for a gallon of regular unleaded are up 41 cents over the past 30 days, and up 75 cents from a year ago, when a gallon of gas cost $2.61.

“When it gets to $5 per gallon, my horses are going to get ridden a lot more,” Degges said.

She also shuttles her boyfriend to odd jobs in Dalton, Ga., and Cleveland and South Pittsburg, Tenn., in her new Ford F-150, which adds to the bill.

“If this gas don’t go down, I don’t know what people are going to do,” she said. “They’ve got house payments, electricity payments, and now this.”

But motorists aren’t the only ones affected by price spikes.

Contractors such as Tim Atwood, operations manager for Chattanooga-based Metro Lawn Care, purchase 10,000 gallons of fuel per month during the growing season.

“From the time we start in the morning to the end of the day, something that uses gas is running,” he said. “We run gas mowers, large engines, small engines — everything uses gas.”

It’s gotten to the point where he’s built rising pump costs into each contract, with the client responsible for fluctuations in fuel prices via a fuel surcharge.

“We are very comparable to the trucking industry, in that we run on gas,” he said.

Chattanooga-based U.S. Xpress, which runs 8,000 trucks, goes through 12 million gallons of fuel each month, spokesman Greg Thompson said Friday.

“It’s the second largest cost we have,” he said.

The cost of fuel surcharges, which is passed onto customers, eventually reaches the consumer in the form of higher-priced goods, he added.

AAA on Monday said unrest in Libya is responsible for a “temporary burst” of increase that drove oil prices above $100 per barrel after that country halted oil exports.

However, oil prices fell again after other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which collectively hold more than 44 percent of the world’s oil, said they would boost production to offset the disruption.

The highest price recorded in Chattanooga was $3.978 for a gallon of regular unleaded on Sept. 18, 2008, and $4.758 for a gallon of diesel on July 17 that same year.

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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Libertine said...

People tend to forget the first domino that led to the Great Recession was before the housing bust, the Wall Street and Detroit bailouts. It happened in the form of fuel prices that reached $4.85 for a gallon of diesel. The unrest in the Middle East can easily knock us right back down into the pit ... a pit our friends in NW Georgia have never even started to climb out of.

March 5, 2011 at 7:55 a.m.
cannonball said...

People tend to forget the record profits these oil companies have made over the years too. They will use any excuse they can to bump up the prices for profit and bonus checks for the big dogs. A small store out in the country will sell 20,000 gallons a month. Just think about the money these oil people make by raising prices a few cent a gallon. It's robbery.

March 5, 2011 at 8:22 a.m.
rick1 said...

Lets look at how Obama has moved to cut our own domestic oil supply:

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar canceled 77 leases for oil and gas drilling in Utah in his first month in office.

Obama instituted not one but two outright drilling bans in the Gulf of Mexico. The Energy Information Administration estimates that President Obama’s offshore drilling ban will cut domestic offshore oil production by 13 percent this year.

The EPA has announce new global warming restrictions on oil refineries which will raise gas prices at the pump by either by decreasing the availability of domestic energy supplies, or increasing regulatory costs on gasoline production.

During the first two years under Obama, gas prices have risen 55%. Remember in 2008 when Obama said we should have a wind fall profit tax on oil companies when the cost on a barrel of oil goes over $80.00. The response from Obama these past two years has been deafening.

March 5, 2011 at 11 a.m.
rick1 said...

I would also suggest reading the below listed links on how The Obama Administraion's Energy Secretary Steven Chu handled the BP Oil spill and because of his actions the spill could have been stopped 48 days earlier. I noticed we have not heard a whole lot about this.

March 5, 2011 at 11:13 a.m.
ceeweed said...

Just because oil is produced in the U.S. does not mean it stays in the U.S.

March 5, 2011 at 2:53 p.m.
bree said...


March 5, 2011 at 3:39 p.m.
rick1 said...

The U.S. used 18.8 million barrels of oil per day in 2009 and imported 51 percent. Of those imports, 17 percent came from Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.As of December 2010,the largest exporters of oil to the U.S. were: Canada (2.1 million barrels per day) Mexico (1.2 million barrels per day) Saudi Arabia (1.1 million barrels per day) Nigeria (1 million barrels per day) Venezuela (825,000 barrels per day) Iraq (336,000 barrels per day) Angola (307,000 barrels per day) Brazil (271,000 barrels per day) Algeria (262,000 barrels per day) Colombia (220,000 barrels per day) The most significant driver of rising oil prices is increased demand. Industrialized countries climbing out of recessions are using more oil, China and India are also using more oil as they continue economic growth. Rising demand will continue to put upward pressure on prices as the world economy attempts to recover.

We need to increase access to oil and gas exploration,rather than forcing other sources of energy and technologies into the marketplace.

March 5, 2011 at 5:25 p.m.
rick1 said...


Bree, please defend Obama's engery policy for the last two years.

Lets see,increased biofuel production: This has produces less energy per unit volume than gasoline, contributes to food price increases, costs taxpayers $4 billion to produce 2 percent of the total gasoline supply, and has dubious environmental effects.

Increased electrical vehicle production: Very costly, and does not fit the needs of the consumer, and environmentally suspect.

Increased wind and solar power: This not only makes up a minuscule 1 percent of America’s electricity generation but are entirely irrelevant to gasoline supply in the transportation sector.

So please let me know why we should not be questioning Obama's energy policy?

March 5, 2011 at 5:45 p.m.
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