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No more empty wallets for full tanks in Lamar County

The price of gas is perplexing. Today I rode by the Ingles on Highway 341 and watched in fear as the pump attendant changed the sign from $1.47 to $1.54. I thought to myself that because of the upcoming holiday season prices would again sore to an astonishing rate. Once at work I decided to call around and find out some other gas prices to see just where Barnesville factored in. Flash Foods on Highway 341 also advertised $1.54. The BP in Griffin had topped out at $1.59 and the RaceWay just off I-475 in Macon was sitting firm at $1.46. Lamar County was no longer the leader in low fuel prices I realized but at the same time it wasn’t the highest. I felt some sense of relief as I quickly pulled up the New York Stock Exchange on the Internet to see what oil by the barrel was opening at. $25.77 was quite a bit lower than what we had been seeing for the past year or so. But what makes this pricing process so complex? There are, in fact, many factors that contribute to the price at the pump, such as crude oil production quotas, location and ;boutique fuel;; requirements, speculation, refinery capacities, transportation and of course taxes. There are refiner problems wherein people are driving more at the same time refineries are producing less. Cost changes based on speculation as well. Some experts and talking heads have said the market’s acutely speculative quality has added a ‘fear premium’ of $10 to $15 per barrel. Then there is the stripped down crude oil prices. In 2003, crude oil made up 44 percent of the cost of a gallon of regular gasoline. No country uses, produces and imports more energy than the U.S. Crude oil prices are set in response to worldwide supply and demand. OPEC pumps about 40 percent of the world’s oil, primarily through state-run industries. The cartel is therefore able to play a significant role in setting world crude oil prices, by determining production levels for its members. But the most curious of all contributions is that of the sellers. As shown in the chart 25% of the price of a gallon goes into distribution and marketing costs. So, if retail gas prices change, the refiners, not the station operators, see the profit or loss. Independent owners set their own prices. And lastly there are the taxes. Right now 13% of the price of gas is earmarked for taxes. Federal taxes are 18.4 cents a gallon; this is in addition to state and local taxes. Alaska has the lowest state tax, at 18.4 cpg. Georgia ranks right in the middle at 46.5 cpg although drivers will see a four cent decrease on January 1 due to a tax decrease by The Department of Revenue. Currently California boasts the highest state taxes at 67.1 cpg.

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