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Higher gas prices ring in the New Year across Texas

Fuel City in Haltom City is selling gas for $2.15 a gallon.
Fuel City in Haltom City is selling gas for $2.15 a gallon. jlmarshall@star-telegram.com

Higher gas prices are ringing in the New Year across Texas, with the statewide average for a gallon of gas going up for the fifth straight week.

The Texas average for unleaded gas went up 5 cents from last week to hit $2.11 a gallon, 18 cents higher than the first week of December and 34 cents higher than a year ago, according to AAA Texas.

Motorists in Dallas were paying the highest average price at $2.15 this week, a 5-cent boost from a week ago, with drivers in Fort Worth and Arlington not far behind in shelling out $2.13 a gallon, or 6 cents more than last week, the travel and insurance agency reported.

Drivers in El Paso were paying the least at $2.03 a gallon, according to the AAA survey of the state’s largest metropolitan areas. The national average price for unleaded is $2.30, 4 cents more than last week.

I think it will continue to creep up and I don’t see it going back below $2,

John Benda, founder of the Fuel City convenience store chain

“It keeps going up,” said John Benda, founder of the Fuel City convenience store chain, which recently opened a store in Haltom City. He was selling gas for $2.15 there and at his stores in Dallas and Mesquite.

“I think it will continue to creep up and I don’t see it going back below $2. I think the chances are greater of it going to $2.75 in the next nine months,” Benda said.

The agreement by the OPEC member nations to cut their production of crude oil by 1.8 million barrels a day for six months is listed as the primary reason gas prices are climbing, along with the holiday travel season, AAA reported. Demand for gasoline is expected to drop drastically in January.

Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries recently agreed to the cutback in production to ease the glut of oil on the market that sent oil prices lower this year. The Oil Price Information Service expects 70 percent compliance among the member countries.

The week of Dec. 1, about the time OPEC announced its cutbacks, the statewide average for gas was $1.93 a gallon. It jumped 13 cents over the next three weeks. In Fort Worth and Arlington, the price climbed 14 cents over the same period; it jumped 15 cents per gallon in Dallas, AAA reported.

Still, the nation’s five least expensive markets are South Carolina, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas and Alabama, said Doug Shupe, spokesman for AAA Texas and New Mexico.

“Most drivers in the South and Southeast regions continue to enjoy some of the cheapest prices in the nation due to their proximity to major Gulf Coast refineries and some of the lowest gas taxes in the country,” he said.

Max B. Baker: 817-390-7714, @MaxbakerBB

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